Kingdom of Prussia

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Kingdom of Prussia
coat of arms flag
Coat of arms of Prussia Flag of Prussia
Situation in the German Reich
The kingdom
Prussia 1866–1918 (red),
German Empire 1871–1918 (red and yellow)
State capital Berlin
Form of government absolute monarchy (1701–1848), constitutional monarchy (1848–1918)
Head of state King (1701–1918)
dynasty Hohenzollern (1415-1918)
Exist 1701-1918
surface 348,780 km² (1910)
resident 40,016,000 (1910)
Population density 115 inhabitants per km²
Arose from Brandenburg-Prussia
Incorporated into Free State of Prussia , Saar area , Free City of Danzig
Votes in the Reichsrat 26th
Votes in the Federal Council 17th
License Plate IA, IB ... IZ

Kingdom of Prussia refers to the Prussian state at the time of the rule of the Prussian kings between 1701 and 1918.

The Kingdom of Prussia emerged from the Brandenburg-Prussian areas after Elector Friedrich III. of Brandenburg had been crowned king in Prussia. It consisted of Brandenburg, which belonged to the Holy Roman Empire , and the eponymous Duchy of Prussia , which emerged from the Teutonic Order as a Polish fief . The originally Prussian areas in the east of the kingdom were henceforth called East Prussia .

In the 18th century Prussia rose to become one of the five major European powers and became the second major German power after Austria . Since the middle of the 19th century, it pushed the creation of a German nation-state forward and from 1867 it was the dominant member state of the North German Confederation . In 1871 this union was expanded to the German Empire and the King of Prussia took over the office of German Emperor . With the abdication of the last emperor and king, Wilhelm II , as a result of the November Revolution in 1918, the monarchy was abolished. The kingdom went up in the newly created Free State of Prussia .

The Elector couple from Brandenburg ( Friedrich Wilhelm (Brandenburg) and Luise Henriette von Oranien ) during the potato harvest in Oranienburg in 1659 (see also the cultural history of the potato )
Elector Friedrich Wilhelm with his generals, 1670s. The Battle of Fehrbellin in 1675 shaped the Prussian sense of mission and created the founding myth of the Prussian state.


The history of the Kingdom of Prussia and its Prussian states comprises two distinctive periods: the first half from 1701 to 1806, known as the period of the Old Prussian Monarchy, and the "New Prussian Monarchy" from 1807 to 1918. The years from 1806 to 1809 led to renewal All state institutions in a changed state territory, old Prussian lines of tradition and structures were dropped and a new era began. In the course of the Prussian reforms , the "New Prussian State" came into being.

Raised rank under King Friedrich I (1701–1713)

The Duchy of Prussia, which had existed since 1525, was elevated to a kingdom in 1701.
Coronation of Elector Friedrich III. from Brandenburg to King Friedrich I in Prussia, Königsberg 1701
The flag of the newly established kingdom in 1701

The new Prussian state

The countries of the Hohenzollern dynasty with their dominant focus in the Mark Brandenburg were a middle power by European standards in 1700 . As the Elector of Brandenburg, the Hohenzollern had held a prominent position as an imperial estate in the Holy Roman Empire since the 15th century . The empire was able to consolidate again after 1648, but the political position of the imperial princes was considerably strengthened with the Peace of Westphalia . With their location in the north-east of the empire, the ties between the Hohenzollern areas and the Kaiser were looser than in the central areas on the Rhine and in southern Germany. In the previous centuries, the Brandenburg electors, in the course of the effects of the Reformation and religious wars , in the struggle between the Unitarian imperial power and the polycentric princely power in the empire, also together with the Saxon electors, had at times formed a regional antithesis to the imperial power.

The rank, reputation and prestige of a prince were important political factors around 1700. Elector Friedrich III. Recognizing the signs of the times, aspired to the title of king . Above all, he was looking for equality of rank with the Elector of Saxony , who was also King of Poland, and with the Elector of Hanover , who was a candidate for the English throne. With the consent of Emperor Leopold I, he finally crowned himself on January 18, 1701 as Friedrich I in Königsberg as "King in Prussia". In return, the Royal Prussian Army took part in the War of the Spanish Succession against France on the side of the Emperor. During the Great Northern War , which broke out at the same time on the northeastern border , Friedrich managed to keep his country free from the clashes.

The restrictive "in Prussia" was retained because the designation "King of Prussia" would have been understood as a claim to rule over all of Prussia, including the western part of the Teutonic Order State , which has belonged to Poland since 1466 . The title “in” averted possible Polish claims to East Prussia, although it was associated with a lower status in the European diplomacy of the time. In the Hohenzollern state, the status of the individual parts of the country continued to apply , of which the Margraviate of Brandenburg followed by the province of East Prussia were the most prominent; the Duchy of Magdeburg , Western Pomerania and the Principality of Halberstadt formed the central provinces. The smaller western parts of the country were initially given a subordinate role. All authorities, state institutions and officials from then on bore the royal Prussian title, contrary to the current constitution.

The turn of the century marks the beginning of the heyday of European absolutism , in which the sovereign princes, after the secularization of church property in the 16th century, were able to significantly reduce the power of the immediate cities and the local nobility. In the course of the rise of the Hohenzollern in power, Berlin became the political center, at the expense of the once politically autonomous cities and the submissive peasants. Newly established sovereign institutions began to replace traditional class structures step by step. The greatly expanded Kurbrandenburg army gained a central role in securing power for the king.

In the eastern parts of the kingdom which had in the 17th century Gutsherrschaft of the landed gentry enforced from formerly free peasant serfs made; the western provinces were not affected, also because other industries dominated there. The population density decreased towards the east; the largest cities were Berlin and Königsberg, which with more than 10,000 inhabitants were also among the 30 largest cities in the empire.

Corruption, plague, famine and courtly splendor

The king ruled in the cabinet and the frequent, indirect government action resulted in a system of minions with ropes around the king. In addition to him, there were other influential officials at court who played a key role in shaping the government. In the 1700s it was primarily the Three Counts Cabinet that determined the actual state policy of Prussia. This created a significant amount of corruption emanating from the highest government offices. This put a considerable strain on public finances. This took place in a time of crisis when the Great Plague struck the Kingdom of Prussia from 1708 to 1714 , where many thousands of people perished. In addition, the millennium winter of 1708/09 led to a famine.

Stadtschloss Berlin after restoration 3D mapping.jpg
The Berlin City Palace was awarded in 1700 a large-scale reconstruction in one of the largest baroque castles in Europe, led by Andreas Schlüter
200806 Berlin 623.JPG
Model view of the Berlin City Palace

Frederick I concentrated on elaborate court keeping based on the French model. This and the general government mismanagement brought the Prussian feudal state to the brink of financial ruin. Only by leasing more Prussian soldiers to the Alliance in the War of the Spanish Succession was the king able to cover the costly expenses for the pomp at court. During his tenure, Prussia received 14 million thalers in subsidy payments from the Allies. The state budget in 1712 was around four million thalers, of which 561,000 were given exclusively to the court. The income consisted only partly of taxes. The Allies' subsidy payments depended on the course of the war, so they did not generate reliable income. During Frederick I's term of office, there was no significant increase in pure tax revenue.

Nevertheless, the king afforded himself an elaborate baroque court with the construction of new palaces ( Charlottenburg Palace , Monbijou Palace ) and hunting lodges in the outskirts of Berlin. The civilization deficit of the traditional agricultural state, perceived by other principalities, was to be made up within a few years through an ambitious courtly expansion program. The arts and crafts were particularly encouraged through increased orders. For the first time in the history of Brandenburg-Prussia, internationally important artists and architects such as Andreas Schlueter also worked in Prussia at this time. The entire court of Frederick was constantly on the move within the Berlin residence landscape. Construction projects and infrastructure measures were initiated, whereby the Margraviate of Brandenburg was more closely involved and developed from Berlin. A brilliant highlight of this time was the meeting of the Three Kings in 1709 in Caputher Castle . Here Frederick I was able to demonstrate the increased importance of the Prussian state since 1701. Due to the immigration of the Huguenots a few years earlier, there was now an educated and economically active bourgeoisie , mainly in the Berlin area , which formed the basis for the now increasing social differentiation . The demand from the Berlin court led to the establishment of new commercial branches and manufactories . The Huguenots also brought innovations to agriculture, such as tobacco growing in the Uckermark . The Berlin Residence was also considerably expanded and expanded with suburbs ( Friedrichstadt , Dorotheenstadt ). The number of inhabitants of the Prussian capital increased considerably. The establishment of the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin and the newly founded University of Halle improved the higher education offer.

Internal consolidation under King Friedrich Wilhelm I (1713–1740)

The territorial development of Brandenburg-Prussia in the 18th century: area increases during the reign of Friedrich I in violet, Friedrich Wilhelm I in red, Friedrich II in green, Friedrich Wilhelm II in blue.

Expansion of the army, reduction of culture

Richard Knötel : Friedrich Wilhelm I in the Lustgarten inspects the
Lange Kerls infantry regiment in Potsdam

The son of Friedrich I, Friedrich Wilhelm I , was not fond of splendor like his father, but rather economical and practical. As a result, just coming out of his father's room in which he died, he cut the expenses for keeping the court and dismissed most of the courtiers after the funeral. Everything that served the courtly luxury was either abolished or used for other purposes. All of the king's austerity measures were aimed at building up a strong standing army , in which the king saw the basis of his internal and external power. He used 73% of the annual state income for running military costs, while the court and administration had to make do with 14%. During his tenure he built the Prussian army into one of the most powerful armies in all of Europe, which earned him the nickname “the soldier king”. In view of the size of the Prussian army in relation to the total population, 83,000 soldiers to 2.5 million inhabitants in 1740, Georg Heinrich von Berenhorst later wrote: “The Prussian monarchy always remains - not a country that has an army, but an army that has a country in which it is, as it were, only one quarters. "

Shortly after taking office, the War of the Spanish Succession ended , in which Prussian auxiliary troops fought against subsidies for years away from their own territory. Prussia had not played an independent role in the war; Despite this weak position, however, in the peace negotiations it was awarded the previously conquered areas around Geldern , Neuchâtel and Lingen from the Orange inheritance. The peace treaty of 1714 made it possible for the king to turn to the not yet ended Northern European conflict. Two years later he led the Pomeranian campaign , which lasted several months , which increased Prussia's property to include part of Swedish Western Pomerania including the Oder delta with the important port city of Stettin . A longer period of peace followed in Europe, which enabled Prussia to devote itself to internal development.

During his reign, Friedrich Wilhelm managed to finance the army, which was oversized in relation to its resources, and to keep it operational for decades. As a result of mass desertions, there was an excessive number of forced recruits in order to maintain the target manpower . With the introduction of compulsory military service , primarily affecting the lower classes , the cantonal regulations , as well as an effective administration and the integration of all social forces, including the nobility, under the goals of the king, it was possible to consolidate the Prussian military state. No further foreign policy goals were initially pursued.

Administrative reforms, manufacturing and government revenue

Friedrich Wilhelm I's Tobacco College in Königs Wusterhausen , around 1737

The state reorganization begun by Elector Friedrich Wilhelm in favor of princely power and at the expense of the estates and the autonomous cities was essentially completed by 1740 under his grandson, King Friedrich Wilhelm I. The transformation of the state superstructure took place under the influence of absolutism prevailing in Europe , which reached its peak in Prussia in the middle of the 18th century. In particular, King Friedrich Wilhelm I and his son and successor Friedrich II “ruled through” by means of individual decrees even in ancillary matters. This resulted in a highly personalized representation of Prussian history in the older historiography, up to and including the formation of legends and myths that arose around the great Prussian rulers of this epoch.

With the establishment of a general directorate , the initially purely princely administration was expanded to include general interests of the community, creating a uniform nationwide hierarchy with clear responsibilities. Class influences of the nobility were pushed back by the patriarchal leadership of Friedrich Wilhelm I. With the central administration geared towards the person of the monarch, which included a uniform royal bureaucracy , and the forced expansion of the standing army, institutions were created that united the geographically still fragmented country.

With extensive domain ownership and excise duties, the administrative bodies were given a concern for the development of agriculture that went far beyond fiscal interests. This was followed by a special reform of the royal domain management aimed at increasing yields , the annual income of which almost doubled between 1714 with 1.9 million thalers and 3.5 million thalers in 1740. A broadened taxation system with a uniform property tax, which included peasant and aristocratic estates equally, increased income. A mercantilist economic policy, the promotion of trade and industry as well as the tax reform helped to double the annual state income from 3.4 to 7 million thalers. The measures altogether led to a period of great state progress in the period from 1713 to 1740.

Foreign policy

Painting from August's return visit to Berlin in 1729, showing the Prussian royal family

In terms of foreign policy, the king was not always happy. His Spartan conception of representation differed considerably from the dominant French conception of culture. The Prussian king was decried as a sergeant at foreign courts . In courtly intrigues, the opinion was widespread that one could "lead the king around like a dancing bear on the diplomatic floor". Overall, the king was "imperial" loyal throughout the time. Dynastic ties existed with Hanover , which in turn was dynastically linked to Great Britain. The conflict with the heir to the throne, culminating in Frederick II's attempted escape in 1730, turned into a diplomatic scandal. Friedrich Wilhelm I conducted a lively diplomacy with Saxony; Alternating between competition and cooperation, there were several important state visits, trade agreements or the Zeithainer Lustlager . Significant alliance agreements were concluded with Russia, most of which were directed against Poland.

Halle Pietism, social discipline, peuplication

The most important scholars and educators in Prussia until 1750: Thomasius , Francke and Wolff
Konstantin Cretius : Reception of the Salzburg Protestants by King Friedrich Wilhelm I in Berlin at the Leipzig Gate on April 30, 1732 , oil painting around 1860

As the influence of the Protestant Church waned, the state, which was actively formed under Friedrich Wilhelm I, took on more and more social tasks with the help of an ethical civil service, including social reform , poor welfare and education. During his reign, the pious king promoted Halle Pietism , which became the state-determining intellectual basis in Prussia, which, according to the thesis of the historian Gerhard Oestreich, should achieve social discipline or "fundamental discipline". Developed by the means of the 18th century, characteristic of Prussia man image with extended beatings implemented social discipline spread to Europe on State reform programs. The formation of the population was the long-term goal of a state-controlled economic policy and the building of a standing army . Thanks to a population accustomed to rules, norms, superordinate standards and duties, it was possible to create social institutions that included large parts of the state. The University of Halle became the most important school for the enlightened civil service. Reason as well as faith should find implementation in state action. A state-political "Prussian style" arose with certain legal and social notions of equality. In addition to the “law of the law”, the administration also took into account to a certain extent the “law of circumstances”, ie the socio-political effects of the law. In order to fulfill the concept of compensation, compromises in the law were also accepted. The first approaches to social policy emerged; individual institutions such as the Potsdam military orphanage or the Francke Foundations in Halle were founded. In order to attract the necessary skilled workers, compulsory schooling was introduced and economics chairs were set up at Prussian universities; they were the first of their kind in Europe. At the beginning of the reign of the soldier king in 1717 there were only 320 village schools, in 1740 there were already 1480 schools.

In the course of a massively pursued peuplication policy , he let people from all over Europe settle there; so he brought more than 17,000 Protestant Salzburg exiles and other religious refugees to the sparsely populated East Prussia .

When Friedrich Wilhelm I died in 1740, he left behind an economically and financially stable country. He had increased Prussia's area by 8,000 km² to 119,000 km², and it is his merit that the population, which in 1688 was 1.5 million inhabitants, increased to 2.4 million by 1740. A downside of his tenure, however, was the heavy militarization of life in Prussia.

Rise to a major European power under King Friedrich II. (1740–1786)

Silesian Wars

Seydlitz 'cavalry attack in the Battle of Roßbach in 1757. The battle subsequently brought about a significant boost in journalism for Prussia in the Reich

On May 31, 1740, his son Friedrich II - later also called "Friedrich the Great" - ascended the throne. Unlike his father, he thought of using the military and financial potential he had built up to expand his own power. Although the king, as crown prince, was inclined to philosophy and the fine arts, the pacifist attitude did not have a noticeable effect on his government. In the first year of his reign he had the Prussian army march into Silesia , to which the Hohenzollerns raised controversial claims. In doing so, Prussia prevailed against its southern neighbor, the Electorate of Saxony , which had also made claims on Silesia, which put a lasting strain on mutual relations . The acquisition of Silesia considerably strengthened Prussia's war economic infrastructure. In the three Silesian Wars (1740–1763) he succeeded in asserting the conquest against Austria , in the last, the Seven Years War (1756–1763), even against a coalition of Austria, France and Russia . This was the beginning of the Prussian great power position in Europe and the Prussian-Austrian dualism in the empire. As early as 1744, the county of East Friesland , with which there had been trade relations since 1683 , fell to Prussia after the Cirksena dynasty there died out.

Enlightened absolutism, socio-political reforms

Adolph von Menzel : King Friedrich II. Round Table in Sanssouci with Voltaire (left) and the leading figures of the Berlin Academy , oil painting from 1850
Georg Schöbel : Friedrich the Great and Voltaire in the gallery of the Sanssouci Palace , 1740s

The age of enlightened absolutism began with Frederick II . This was expressed in reforms and measures with which the king extended state influence to almost all areas. The torture was abolished and eased censorship. With the establishment of the general Prussian land law and the granting of complete freedom of belief, he lured further exiles into the country. In his opinion, in Prussia "everyone should be saved according to his own style". In this context, his saying also became known: “All religions are the same and good, if the people, if they profess, are honest people, and if Turks and pagans came and wanted to poop the country, we wanted to build them mosquees and churches let " . In the late years of his reign, which lasted until 1786, Frederick II, who saw himself as the “first servant of the state”, particularly promoted the development of the country. The population of the sparsely populated areas east of the Elbe, such as the Oderbruch , was at the forefront of his political agenda.

The measures following Friedrich's enlightened conception of the state led to an improved rule of law . Although the administration of justice was one of his sovereign rights as an absolute ruler, Frederick II largely renounced it for more justice. In 1781 Friedrich introduced a legislative commission to evaluate the laws he had passed. In doing so, he lifted jurisprudence and legislation out of his purely subjective sphere of power without constitutionally restricting his princely sovereign rights. In an effort to displace the previously valid religious-patriarchal conception of the state ( God's right , God with us ) in favor of a more rational state based on an immaterial social and submission contract ( Leviathan (Thomas Hobbes) ), Friedrich decided in favor of the welfare of the Society and against regulatory arbitrariness . He no longer embodied the state, but was itself just an institution in the service of the state; the civil servants had the right to preserve the rights and security within the state community.

The will of the king was nevertheless still autocratically enforced through decrees, orders, secret service instructions, ordinances or patents. The administration lacked a legal and formal system, with the consequence of frequent reorganization, disputes over competencies as well as aimlessness of official actions. The king thwarted their work by deciding over them, the administration reacted with embellished and falsified reports. The cumbersome state administration around 1750 nevertheless enabled a relatively dense intensity of rule. A modern professional civil service that worked according to the departmental principle did not yet exist; To improve this, a successfully completed university degree was introduced as a prerequisite for the recruitment of senior civil servants and civil servants. With increasing age it became more and more difficult for the king to keep the strings in hand and the bureaucracy developed increasingly self-interest, with which the personally enlightened absolutism of Frederick turned into a bureaucratic state absolutism.

View from Schlossplatz into Königstrasse. The ever-present Prussian military exercises on the square. 1788, Stadtmuseum Berlin , painting oil on canvas by Carl Traugott Fechhelm

Frederick II subordinated all political action to the reasons of state . This led to a state centrism, which provided for the willingness to make sacrifices and subordination of every inhabitant as obedient subject (" Dogs, do you want to live forever "). Frederick II did not envisage society as an active political force; society and the economy remained subject to his claim to power. Until 1806, the nobility dominated the management positions of the administration and the military, access to the higher ministerial bureaucracy and higher military service was closed to the bourgeoisie. In spite of this, an economic bourgeoisie developed with royal protection in the industrial and commercial centers. The feudal professional ethics to get objective was the social policy of Frederick II., Which he a social mobility prevented. Maintaining the political and social status quo became the traditional cornerstone of Prussian domestic politics . By keeping all social classes within the barriers assigned to them by the state, they used the state and its army in the sense of an expansive foreign policy. In terms of financial policy, increasing income and limiting expenditure in order to maintain the high level of military capability remained an ongoing state-political goal with high priority; the economic policy was the financial policy and defense policy subordinate.

Retablissement, War of the Bavarian Succession, Prince League and First Partition of Poland

Robert Warthmüller: The king everywhere , oil painting from 1886. - King Friedrich II examines the potato cultivation in Prussia. The transfigured portrayal shows Friedrich as a “good father of the country ” who cares about the well-being of his farmers in a self-sacrificing way.

After Prussia's high war losses - estimates assume 360,000 civilians and 180,000 fallen soldiers for the Seven Years' War - Frederick II devoted himself to rebuilding the country after 1763 as part of an overall plan whose long-term goal was to increase popular education and improve the situation of farmers and the creation of manufactories. To do this, he used mercantilist methods with state subsidies for companies as well as export and import bans and further measures for market regulation. Against great internal resistance, he introduced the French direction and leased the excise to Marcus Antonius de la Haye de Launay . He restricted the Polish grain trade on the Vistula in 1772 through an unequal trade agreement. A coin decree with currency devaluation by 33 to 50 percent brought relief to the state in 1764 with the state finances. The famine years of 1771 and 1772 passed Prussia. Prussia fought trade wars with Saxony and Austria. Hundreds of new colonist villages emerged in river plains on previously drained marshland ( Frederick's Dzian colonization ).

View from Klausberg to the New Palace .
The picture shows the arrival of a company at the New Palace in July 1775. The six-horse carriages have passed Sanssouci Palace and continue to the New Palace. Various Württemberg and Hessian princes and princesses sit in the two 6-horse carriages. King Friedrich II can be seen on a white horse.
Background: Friedrich had many siblings and therefore also had many relatives by marriage, to whose children and grandchildren he was related as an uncle in various degrees, and who lived all over Europe. They served in his army and they also came to visit their royal relatives in Berlin and Potsdam. Once a year Friedrich invited all of these relatives to stay in Potsdam for three weeks - in the New Palace.

Prussian foreign policy remained shaped by the unstable European power system even after 1763. Crises threatened to develop into continental crises, but after 1763 Prussia as well as Austria and France were too exhausted for new armed forces. The antagonism between Austria and Prussia continued, came to a head in the War of the Bavarian Succession . The Prussian policy of its own state sovereignty towards the Reich remained decisive. With the establishment of the Fürstenbund , Frederick II acted as the protector of the empire at times. Together with Austria and Russia , Friedrich operated the partition of Poland . During the first division in 1772, Polish-Prussia , the Netzedistrikt and the Duchy of Warmia fell to Brandenburg-Prussia . The land connection between Pomerania and the Kingdom of Prussia, which was outside the territory of the Reich, was thus established, which was important for Frederick II. Now “both Prussians” were in his possession and he could call himself “King of Prussia”. Administratively, this kingdom consisted of the provinces of West Prussia and East Prussia as well as the network district.

The king enlarged his territory during his reign by 76,000 km² to 195,000 km² (1786). During this time, the population of Prussia grew from about 2.4 million to 5.629 million, despite the loss of about 500,000 people during the Seven Years' War. The number of immigrants to Prussia between 1740 and 1786 is estimated at 284,500. Despite the temporary disruption of the economy as a result of the protracted wars during his reign, the state revenue rose from 7 million thalers in 1740 to 20 million in 1786. Frederick the Great died on August 17, 1786 in Sanssouci Palace .

Hubris and Nemesis (1786–1807)

Berlin from Tempelhof Mountain seen from Johann Friedrich Fechhelm 1781. The city developed at that time the second largest city of the Holy Roman Empire.

Effects of the French Revolution

With the death of Frederick II, the phase of the Prussian monarchy ended, in which the king as a political actor could independently set up his own programmatic goals, define and order them in packages of measures. Frederick II, who was constantly on inspection trips, tried to cope with the increasing number of tasks with his distinctive service ethic, from which the legend of the “king everywhere” developed. In the meantime, however, the state apparatus had grown to a size that no longer enabled it to oversee and control political affairs even at the highest level of the state. By 1800 at the latest, the kingdom had become too big and society had developed too far. His successors limited themselves in government business to a less time-consuming style of rule. The steadily enlarged substructure of the state administration now took over the problem definition and the development of solutions, which the king, as the highest authority, only had to approve.

In 1786 Friedrich's nephew, Friedrich Wilhelm II (1786–1797) became the new Prussian king. Due to his lack of skills, the monarchical system got into trouble and a court with mistresses and favorites was established . His most famous mistress was Wilhelmine Enke , whom he ennobled with the title of Countess Lichtenau. Berlin grew into a handsome residential city in the 1790s. In 1791 the Brandenburg Gate was completed by the architect Carl Gotthard Langhans . Other classical buildings followed.

The Enlightenment movement under Frederick II had led to a steadily growing society of responsible, self-confident and independent individuals, whose political sense of mission was reflected in demands for participation and critical debates in the existing media and public circles. The overthrow of the absolute monarchy in France led to fears among the German princes that the ideas of the French Revolution could also spread in their own countries with the help of the enlightened bourgeoisie . Friedrich Wilhelm II was therefore under the influence of counter-Enlightenment efforts from an early age , represented by Johann Christoph Wöllner and Johann Rudolf von Bischoffwerder . The Enlightenment Berlin Wednesday Society therefore had to meet in secret; Members included the authors of the General Land Law Carl Gottlieb Svarez and Ernst Ferdinand Klein , the editors of the Berlin monthly Gedike und Biester, the publisher Friedrich Nicolai and, as an honorary member, Moses Mendelssohn . However, people who expressed themselves in a revolutionary and derogatory manner about the Prussian government were either detained for several weeks and also expelled from 1790, while others emigrated voluntarily. In 1794 the General Land Law , which had already begun under Frederick II, was introduced for the Prussian states . Although the comprehensive body of law lost its enlightened character during the reign of Friedrich Wilhelm II, it nevertheless provided a generally applicable legal basis for all Prussian provinces.

Partition of Poland, end of dualism with Austria, peace with France

The partition policy towards Poland was continued by Friedrich Wilhelm II as well as by Russia and Austria. During the second and third partition of Poland (1793 and 1795) Prussia secured further territories as far as Warsaw. As a result of this increase in area, the population increased by 2.5 million Poles and the difficult task was to integrate them into the state. Whether this would have succeeded in the end cannot be conclusively stated, since the areas of the last two partitions of Poland were initially lost to Prussia under Napoléon's rule.

Signs of hubris before the fall, Prussian officers sharpen their sabers in front of the French embassy in Berlin
Territorial losses (purple, green) and gains (red, yellow) of the Prussian state in the time of the fall of the Holy Roman Empire until 1806. As a result of the losses caused by the Peace of Tilsit in 1807, the territory shown in brown remained with Prussia.

In terms of foreign policy, Prussia was primarily interested in reducing Austria's strength and influence in Germany. In the 1780s, tensions between the two great powers had intensified considerably. Prussia supported revolts against Austrian rule in Belgium and Hungary. This caused the Emperor and Austrian King Leopold II to draw closer to Prussia during the time of the French Revolution . With the Reichenbach Convention of July 27, 1790, the era of bitter Prussian-Austrian dualism, which had shaped the politics of the Holy Roman Empire since 1740, was over. From then on, both powers pursued their interests together. A first meeting between Leopold II and Friedrich Wilhelm II on August 27, 1791 resulted in the Pillnitz Declaration , thanks to the influence of the Count of Artois, who later became King Charles X of France . In it they declared their solidarity with the French monarchy and threatened military action, provided that the other European powers would agree to such a step. In addition, on February 7, 1792, a defense alliance, the Berlin Treaty , was concluded between Austria and Prussia. Revolutionary France then declared war on Austria, and thus also Prussia, on April 20, 1792. The advance of the Austro-Prussian army came to a standstill on September 20, 1792 after the unsuccessful cannonade at Valmy , so that French troops could again advance into the Rhineland. In this power-consuming first coalition war against France, Prussia finally sought a compromise. The two powers came to an agreement in the Franco-Prussian peace treaty of Basle of 1795. Prussia recognized the conquests of France on the left bank of the Rhine and achieved a north German neutrality zone extending as far as Franconia . Germany thus crossed a line of demarcation that defined the zones of influence of the three great powers France, Austria and Prussia and led to peace in the north of Germany, while the south of Germany remained a theater of war.

North German neutrality zone, dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire

The Prussian solo effort meant that the other European powers mistrusted the Prussian king, so that he was isolated in the following years. With its unilateral departure from the war coalition, Prussia showed its indifference to the fate of the empire. Austria, too weak on its own, also gave up and thus admitted the end of the Prussian-Austrian great power politics in Europe. While the Empire journalism Prussia for the informal peace with France strongly condemned, the other imperial estates remained cautious. With the Berlin treaties of August 5, 1796, Prussia came into the possession of the dioceses of Münster , Würzburg and Bamberg . For the north, the Hildesheim Congress formed a kind of counter-Reichstag; Payments from the north German imperial estates no longer went to the emperor, but to the Prussian treasury. France completed the transformation of the European state system with the business-like liquidation of the empire. On November 16, 1797, Friedrich Wilhelm II died, his son Friedrich Wilhelm III. (1797-1840) was his successor. In accordance with the personal character of the new king, the Prussian government became more vacillating, deliberate and hesitant, both internally and externally. The king still ruled in absolute form around 1800, but the state administration had taken the political initiative in many areas, while the king only reacted without being able to actively and actively shape the program.

With the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss (Reichsdeputationshauptschluss) , Prussia was able to realize the considerable gains in land and people decided in the Peace of Basel in 1802/1803 and, with secularization, absorbed the former spiritual dominions of the Hildesheim Monastery , the Paderborn Monastery ( Principality of Paderborn ), the Münster Monastery ( Hereditary Principality of Münster ). , the imperial monasteries Quedlinburg , Elten , Essen , Werden and Cappenberg as well as Electoral Mainz possessions in Thuringia ; it also received the former imperial cities of Mühlhausen , Nordhausen and Goslar .

The beginning of the 19th century completed a phase of growth and expansion lasting over a hundred years. As the original European middle power, Prussia had caught up with the top ranks by 1800. Of the five great powers of the continent that was economically, socially, technologically and militarily most advanced at the time, Prussia was still by far the smallest in terms of its economic power, its population density and even in terms of its army of 240,000 men. Around 1800, its political reputation was mainly based on symbolic factors from the glory days of the Silesian Wars. This led to misperceptions among the national competitors of the time about their real strengths.

Comparison of statistical key figures of the largest European countries 1804
after EW
Country resident Area
in km²
per km²
Army size State income
in guilders
State income
in guilders per capita
1 (European) Russian Empire 36,385,000 4,356,336 8.4 510,000 110,000,000 3
2 First empire 32,359,000 642.365 50.4 600,949 252,300,000 8th
3 Empire of Austria 25,588,000 670.513 38.2 356,000 120,000,000 5
4th United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland 15,024,000 315.093 47.7 200,000 260,000,000 17th
5 (European) Ottoman Empire 11,040,000 670.208 16.5 100,000 54,000,000 5
6th Spain 10,730,000 506.996 21.2 76,000 75,000,000 7th
7th Kingdom of Prussia 9,851,000 316.287 31.1 240,000 60,000,000 6th
Europe 182,599,000 9,598,225 19.0 2,549,686 1,173,730,000 6th

Fourth coalition war with France

Prussia's fickle policy of neutrality brought about its political devaluation, especially in France. In contemporary analyzes, discourses and reports, French voices demanded that Prussia renounce claims "which could only have been owed to the genius of the great Friedrich for thirty years, but which did not match the strength of the other powers" ( Conrad Malte- Brun , 1803). Instead, France, like the other German states, should submit as an ally, without expecting a special position.

Napoleon's entry into Berlin through the Brandenburg Gate, 1806

The superiority of the French army posed a new and existential threat. Napoleon I was also unwilling to limit French expansion and therefore ignored international treaties and agreements. As a result, the Prussian government faced an acid test. In 1806, after a number of provocations, Prussia made the fatal mistake of competing militarily with France without first ensuring the support of the other great powers. In the battle of Jena and Auerstedt , the kingdom suffered a crushing defeat against Napoleon's troops. King Friedrich Wilhelm III. and his family had to flee temporarily to Memel , and the so-called " French era " began for Prussia . In the Peace of Tilsit in 1807 about half of its national territory, including all areas west of the Elbe and the land gains from the second and third partition of Poland, which now fell to the new Duchy of Warsaw established by Napoléon .

State reforms and wars of liberation (1807-1815)

Kant and his table companions, painting by Emil Doerstling (1892/93). Prussian philosophers such as Wolff, Kant and later Hegel enlivened the state political discourse and provided the basis for social reforms.

The political doctrine of Christian Wolff ( Wolffianism ) was in the late 18th century by Immanuel Kant in his political theory developed designs; for a good coexistence of the people of the state the basis of all law should be the freedom of the individual. In doing so, he was based on the ideas of Adam Smith , Rousseau and Montesquieu, and especially on the idea of ​​the separation of powers and the Volonté générale . The experience of the American and French Revolutions nurtured ideals that were incompatible with the existing political conditions of an insistent absolute monarchy. The need for reform was great after the death of Frederick II, but the reform approaches initially remained timid and limited. These ideas were decisive for the implementation of later reforms, but first a total collapse of the existing political system was necessary.

In 1807 Prussia had to endure the French occupation, supply the foreign troops and make large contributions to France. These restrictive peace conditions in turn brought about his state-political renewal with the aim of preparing the basis for the liberation struggle. With the Stein-Hardenberg reforms under the leadership of Freiherr vom Stein , Scharnhorst and Hardenberg , the educational system was redesigned, the serfdom of the peasants was abolished and in 1808 the self-government of the cities and in 1810 the freedom of trade were introduced. The army reform was completed in 1813 with the introduction of general conscription .

Beginning of the call to my people
The return of the Quadriga of the Brandenburg Gate in 1814

After the defeat of the "Grande Army" in Russia, the armistice was signed on December 30, 1812 near Tauroggen by the Prussian Lieutenant General Graf Yorck and for the Russian Empire by General Hans von Diebitsch . In the Tauroggen Convention , which York initially agreed on its own initiative without the participation of the King, it was decided to separate the Prussian troops from the alliance with the French army; that was the beginning of the uprising against French rule. At the beginning of February 1813, the entire province of East Prussia had been withdrawn from the Prussian king's grasp, and the authority was exercised by Freiherr vom Stein as the representative of the Russian government. In this situation, the Berlin government slowly distanced itself from its French alliance partner. By mid-February the rebellious mood had already spread across the Oder to the Neumark and there were the first signs of a revolution. Advisors to the king made it clear to him that the war against France would take place with him at the helm or, if necessary, without him. After a period of indecision, the king finally decided to join forces with Russia at the end of February; the Treaty of Kalisch was concluded as an anti-Napoleonic alliance and agreements were made about the future possession of territories in neighboring countries.

When the king called for the liberation struggle on March 17, 1813 with the slogan “ To my people ”, 300,000 Prussian soldiers (6 percent of the total population) were standing by due to the general conscription. Prussia became a war zone again. The main fighting along the Prussian-Saxon border zone ended for Prussia and its allies with a victory over the remnants of the French troops. After the decisive Battle of the Nations near Leipzig , in which 16,033 Prussians were killed or wounded, the end of Napoleon's supremacy over Germany was within reach. With the autumn campaign of 1813 and the winter campaign of 1814 , Napoleon's troops were further weakened. After the humiliating defeat of 1807, Prussia saw itself rehabilitated and again on a par with the Austrian Empire . Under Marshal Blücher , the Prussian troops and their allies achieved the final victory over Napoleon in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Restoration and reaction, pre-March and March revolutions (1815–1848)

The area of ​​Prussia after the Congress of Vienna in 1815 (dark blue)

Congress of Vienna, Metternich system, German Confederation

Russian-Prussian revue by Kalisch 1835

After the end of the revolutionary era, the victorious great powers began negotiations for a stable post-war order in Europe, which led to a conservative turnaround and the establishment of the Metternich system . Friedrich Wilhelm III., The Emperor of Russia ( Alexander I ) and the Emperor of Austria ( Franz II. ) Founded the Holy Alliance ; it was supposed to suppress democratic aspirations throughout Europe and restore the absolute monarchical system.

At the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Prussia was given back part of its old territory. New additions were Swedish Pomerania , the northern part of the Kingdom of Saxony , the Province of Westphalia and the Rhine Province . Prussia got back the previously Polish province of Posen , but not the areas of the second and third partition of Poland , which went to Russia. Since then, Prussia has consisted of two large, but geographically separate, country blocks in East and West Germany. The newly won provinces had traditional spatial structures and ties that were no longer applicable. The term Musspreuße describes the difficult and emotionally stressful transition of the former residents to the new state. The population, primarily of the Rhine Province, brought constant unrest to the kingdom with their large and self-confident urban middle class.

In terms of power politics, Prussia was unable to assert itself at the Congress of Vienna; It could not have a decisive influence on the future structure of the German states and Saxony was preserved as a state. The Prussian delegation wanted a Germany with strong and central government functions under its own leadership. In the final act of June 8, 1815 of the German Federal Act , however, the Austrian concept prevailed. Prussia thus became a member of the German Confederation , a loose association of German states under Austrian leadership that existed from 1815 to 1866. Although Prussia had no formal authority over northern Germany , there was still enough leeway to exercise a limited de facto hegemonic position.

The new defensive foreign policy order in Europe led to a revival of fortress construction . In the new provinces in the west, mighty fortresses were built in Koblenz , Cologne and Minden , built according to the New Prussian fortification style . After 1815, Prussia remained by far the smallest of the major European powers. Strictly speaking, Prussia was neither a great power nor a small state, because of its limited scope for foreign policy, but lay between these two levels. For Prussia, this began a long phase of foreign policy passivity, during which it tried to stay out of all conflicts and to get on as well as possible with all powers. Prussia avoided a conflict with Austria. It also had largely good relations with Russia by accepting Russian hegemony over larger parts of Europe .

Conservative turn

With the murder of the theater poet and Russian envoy August von Kotzebue in Mannheim by the student Karl Ludwig Sand , the radicalism of the national unification movements became apparent. With the Karlovy Vary resolutions of August 1819, stricter censorship and surveillance measures were enacted, which were unanimously approved by the Bundestag in Frankfurt am Main on September 20, 1819 . The conservative advisors to the Huguenot Jean Pierre Frédéric Ancillon , who influenced King Friedrich Wilhelm III during the French occupation. won a wave of arrests known as the persecution of demagogues . The royal cabinet government, consisting primarily of the trio Sophie Marie von Voss , Wilhelm zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein and Ancillon, opposed Chancellor Hardenberg, on whom the king had become dependent. Intrigue and an overall more conservative political climate in Europe led to a conservative turnaround. A poisoned political atmosphere, which suspected anyone who did not strictly follow the line, led to the dismissal of such important reformers as Humboldt , Beyme and von Boyen at the end of 1819 ; Heinrich Dietrich von Grolman and August Neidhardt von Gneisenau also went last . The promise made during the wars of freedom to give the country a constitution was canceled by Friedrich Wilhelm III. never one. In place of a central parliament as in other German states, there were only the provincial parliaments in Prussia from 1823 , which were elected and organized according to class criteria and required long-term property for the members of the parliament. Quotas initially ensured that the local nobility initially had a preponderance. Due to a structural economic crisis, the Prussian landed nobility was increasingly forced to sell real estate to the bourgeoisie. In the province of East Prussia, the share of the nobility in land ownership fell from 75.6 percent in 1806 to 48.3 percent in 1829. As a result, the provincial estates came more and more under the control of plutocrats .

The provincial estates had no legislative or fiscal powers, but were primarily advisory bodies. The conservatives had prevailed without creating any real political stability. On the one hand, the reformers had brought about lasting changes in the thinking of the political class , and the conservatives themselves had already adopted many of the reform ideas. This included the changed view of the Prussian state as an organically grown nation that included all residents . However, considerable centers of power remained with the government, especially in the areas of finance, foreign policy, education, religion and health. Ultimately, the provincial estates developed into important focal points of political change. The state parliaments increasingly sought to expand the role assigned to them and gradually increased liberal political pressure in the provinces. As political forums, they demanded that the government hold a general assembly and fulfill the constitutional promise. Their embedding in the provincial public through the provincial press and political circles of urban society, such as the Club Aachener Casino , led to the increasing spread of the state parliament debates, which were secret in themselves . This involvement of the political hinterland, which the government did not want, increased the influence of public opinion on the role of the state parliaments. With many petitions from broad sections of the population, the Berlin government demanded extended decision-making rights.


Due to the division of its national territory into two parts, the economic unification of Germany was in Prussia's own interest. The efforts of the royal government to combat liberalism , democracy and the idea of ​​the unification of Germany were thus opposed by strong economic constraints. Economic deregulation and tariff harmonization were resolved in the Customs Act of May 26, 1818; the first homogeneous and nationwide customs system was created. With the establishment of the German Customs Union in 1834 under Prussian patronage, harmonization beyond Prussia's borders was achieved. This means that more and more supporters outside the country are betting on German unification; Protestants in particular hoped that Prussia would replace Austria as the leading power of the German Confederation. However, the government did not want to hear about “Prussia's German mission” for the political unification of Germany and still opposed the growing calls for a constitution and a parliament even in their own country.


The phase of the so-called Vormärz , which began in France in 1830 with the overthrow of the Bourbon King Charles X and destroyed Metternich's foreign policy system of restoration, became more noticeable in Prussia from 1840 onwards. The restoration policy had not been able to suppress the dynamic forces of the bourgeois movement and political progress in the long term. In the 1830s, the ruling conservative forces in Prussia were still strong enough to suppress the liberal forces that flared up here and there and thus prevent their importance from increasing. Collective protests and outbursts of resentment against the state control remained short-lived phenomena and subsided again after their suppression without any noteworthy political consequences. Protests such as the Berlin tailor revolution from 16.-20. September 1830, as well as tumults in Cologne, Elberfeld, Jülich and Aachen. In the east, too, Prussia was indirectly hit by a wave of revolution. In the Polish province of Poznan , the uprising movement from Congress Poland had to be prevented from spreading. With a policy of Germanization, the attempt was made to master the wave of enthusiasm triggered by the Polish uprising of 1830 , as a result of which thousands of Poznan people crossed the border to fight for the Polish nation.

The small and medium-sized German states were more severely affected by the July Revolution of 1830, which originated in France . In four states, social protests forced the transition to more modern constitutional forms. The unconstitutional Great Powers Prussia and Austria, on the other hand, prepared new repression measures in secret talks, which were decided in 1832 by the Federal Assembly for the German Confederation.

The aging King Friedrich Wilhelm III. died on June 7, 1840, the new King Friedrich Wilhelm IV was hopefully awaited by the liberal forces. One of the innovations associated with the change of government was the easing of censorship decreed in December 1841. An exuberant political journalism followed, so that in February 1843 new censorship regulations were introduced. With the cabinet order of October 4, 1840, the new king, like his predecessor in 1815, expressly distanced himself from the constitutional promise made.

Conflict over the United State Parliament

The hopes that the accession of Friedrich Wilhelm IV. (1840–1861) had initially aroused among liberals and supporters of German unification were soon disappointed. Even the new king made no secret of his aversion to a constitution and an all-Prussian state parliament. For the necessary approval of the funds for the construction of the eastern railway , which the military had demanded , the king had a committee of estates meet, to which representatives of all provincial parliaments belonged. When this committee declared that it was not responsible and because of increasing public pressure, Friedrich Wilhelm IV finally found himself ready in the spring of 1847 to convene a united state parliament that had long been called for.

In his opening speech, the king made it unmistakably clear that he saw the state parliament only as an instrument for granting money and that, in principle, he did not want any constitutional issues discussed; he would not allow " a written leaf to penetrate between our Lord God in heaven and this land, as it were as a second providence ". Since the majority of the state parliament demanded not only the budget approval right from the beginning, but also parliamentary control of the state finances and a constitution, the body was dissolved again after a short time. This revealed a constitutional conflict that ultimately culminated in the March Revolution .

German Revolution of 1848/1849

Cheering revolutionaries after barricade fighting on March 18, 1848, Breite Strasse in Berlin, with the City Palace in the background

After the popular uprisings in southwest Germany, the revolution finally reached Berlin on March 18, 1848. Friedrich Wilhelm IV., Who initially had the rebels shot, had the troops withdrawn from the city and now seemed to bow to the demands of the revolutionaries. The united state parliament met again to decide to convene a Prussian national assembly . At the same time as the elections for the Prussian national assembly took place, which was to meet in Frankfurt am Main .

Violent dissolution of the Prussian National Assembly

The Prussian National Assembly was given the task of working out a constitution together with the Crown. However, the assembly, in which there were less moderate forces than in the United State Parliament, did not approve the government draft for a constitution, but worked out its own draft with the " Charte Waldeck ". The counter-revolution decreed by the king after apparent concessions ultimately led to the dissolution of the National Assembly and the introduction of an imposed Prussian constitution of 1848/1850 . This retained some points on the chart , but on the other hand restored central prerogatives of the crown. A state parliament consisting of two chambers for all of Prussia was created. Above all, the right to vote in three classes had a decisive influence on the political culture of Prussia until 1918. The Austrian counterpart to the imposed constitution of Prussia was the short-lived March constitution imposed by Emperor Franz Joseph I in 1849 , which was abolished with the New Year's Eve patent of 1851.

Caricature on the rejection of the Imperial Crown of the Frankfurt National Assembly by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV.

The Frankfurt National Assembly initially assumed a greater German solution : that part of Austria that had already belonged to the Federation should naturally belong to the emerging German Reich . However, since Austria was not prepared to set up a separate administration and constitution in its non-German parts of the country, the so-called small German solution was finally decided. H. an agreement under Prussia's leadership. However, democracy and German unity failed in April 1849 when Friedrich Wilhelm IV rejected the imperial crown offered to him by the National Assembly. The revolution was finally put down in southwest Germany with the help of Prussian troops.

After Prussia's failed policy of founding a more conservative but constitutional nation- state with the Erfurt Union (1849/1850) , Austria forced the restoration of pre-revolutionary conditions in the German Confederation in the Olomouc punctuation . During the era of reaction that followed , Prussia worked closely with Austria to fight the liberal and national movement, and especially the Democrats.

As a constitutional monarchy until the founding of the empire (1849–1871)

From the Reaction Era to the New Era

Industrialization brought about a restructuring of the social classes. The population in Prussia grew rapidly. In the structure of the workforce, the factory proletariat grew even faster, triggered by the rural exodus. The urban proletariat usually lived on the subsistence level. A new social class emerged, which, driven by its predicament, from then on pushed itself into the foreground politically. The railway boosted mining and metallurgy in the Ruhr to.

The value system of pre-March liberalism lost its importance after the failed revolution of 1848. Although the bourgeoisie was denied a political say, it was still able to work in the economy. Through the accumulation of capital and means of production, the most capable among them achieved comparable top social positions in the nobility. The emergence of economic classes and class antagonisms was followed by the break in the unity of education and property. The bourgeois groups, who until then had upheld the idea of ​​the rule of law and freedom, paralyzed in their struggle for a just liberal order. In the property elite, interest in comprehensive political reforms waned the more their economic and social position became stronger. After the experiences of the 1848 revolution, the educated bourgeois elite had also wavered in their belief in the possibilities of political impact. The working class , in competition with the bourgeois institutions, took over part of the progressive program for its own, newly forming labor movement . The latter was not ready to fight as an auxiliary force for a German nation-state dominated by education and property, the opposition movement against the state regime was henceforth divided. Only the idea of ​​German unity had retained its luster for the bourgeoisie, despite all disappointments. Political developments in the 1850s and 1860s gave the bourgeois national movement a powerful boost.

Wilhelm I , who had already taken over the reign of his brother Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who was unable to govern after several strokes , took over the title of king in 1861 and established a phase of the "New Era"; that seemed to be the end of the time for political reaction. With War Minister Roon , he sought an army reform that provided for longer periods of service and an arming of the Prussian army . However, the liberal majority in the Prussian state parliament , which had budget rights , did not want to approve the necessary funds. A constitutional conflict arose , in the course of which the king considered abdicating. As a last resort, he decided in 1862 to appoint Otto von Bismarck as Prime Minister. He was a vehement supporter of the royal claim to sole power and ruled for years against the constitution and parliament and without a statutory budget. The liberal parliament and also Bismarck mutually made several proposals for compromise, but both rejected them again and again. So it happened that in 1866, after winning the war against Austria, Bismarck presented the indemnity law as a declaration of indemnity , in which the unapproved budgets were subsequently approved.

Assuming that the Prussian crown could only gain popular support if it took the lead in the German unification movement, Bismarck led Prussia in three wars that brought King Wilhelm the German imperial crown.

First war of unification: German-Danish war

The King of Denmark was in personal union the duke of the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein , about which it is stated in the Treaty of Ripen in 1460 that these should remain “op forever ungedeelt” (“forever undivided”). Although it several times in a row to land divisions came within the duchies, the German National Liberals appealed in the 19th century on this very statement of the Ripener contract to their call for a connection Schleswig to Holstein and the German federal government to justify. Under constitutional law, only the Duchy of Holstein belonged to the German Confederation as a former Roman-German fiefdom , while Schleswig was a Danish fiefdom (see also: Danish State as a whole ). The decision of the Copenhagen government after the rejection of the previous general state constitution by the German Confederation to pass a constitution for Schleswig and Denmark alone with the November constitution led in December 1863 to a federal execution against the national Holstein and from February 1864 to protests from the Germans Confederation for the German-Danish War and the occupation of Schleswig and large parts of North Jutland by Prussia and Austria. After the Austro-Prussian victory, the Danish crown had to renounce the duchies of Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg in the Peace of Vienna . The duchies were initially administered jointly in a Prussian-Austrian condominium . After the Gastein Convention of 1865, Schleswig fell under Prussian administration, Holstein initially under Austrian administration, while Austria sold its rights to the Duchy of Lauenburg to the Prussian crown. In 1866 Schleswig, the previously annexed Holstein and Lauenburg were united to form the new Prussian province of Schleswig-Holstein .

Second war of unification: war against Austria

Soon after the end of the war with Denmark, a dispute broke out between Austria and Prussia over the administration and the future of Schleswig-Holstein. Its deeper cause, however, was the struggle for supremacy in the German Confederation. Bismarck succeeded in persuading King Wilhelm, who had long hesitated for reasons of loyalty to Austria, to find a martial solution. Prussia had previously concluded a secret military alliance with the Kingdom of Sardinia- Piedmont, including Provided for the assignment of territory to Austria. Austria, in turn, had assured France in a secret treaty that it would establish a “Rhine State” at the expense of Prussia. These were clear violations of the law, since the federal act of 1815 members of the German Confederation forbade them to enter into alliances against other member states.

After the Prussian invasion of the standing under Austrian administration Holstein Frankfurt decided Bundestag , the Federal execution against Prussia. Prussia, for its part, declared the German Confederation extinct and occupied the kingdoms of Saxony and Hanover as well as the Electorate of Hesse . On the side of Austria stood the other German kingdoms and other, especially south-west and central German states. The Free City of Frankfurt as the seat of the Bundestag leaned towards the Austrian side, but was officially neutral. On the part of Prussia, in addition to some small northern German and Thuringian states, the Kingdom of Italy also entered the war (→  Battle of Custozza and Sea Battle of Lissa ).

In the German War , Prussia's army under General Helmuth von Moltke won the decisive victory in the Battle of Königgrätz on July 3, 1866 . With the Peace of Prague on August 23, 1866, the German Confederation, which in fact had already disintegrated as a result of the war, was also formally dissolved and Austria had to withdraw from German politics. Through the annexations of the opposing states Kingdom of Hanover , the Electorate of Hesse , Duchy of Nassau and the Free City of Frankfurt , Prussia was able to connect almost all of its territories with one another. It formed the provinces of Hanover , Hessen-Nassau and Schleswig-Holstein from the territories gained .

Otto von Bismarck , since 1862 Prime Minister of Prussia, since 1867 Federal Chancellor of North Germany

Five days before the peace agreement, Prussia had founded the North German Confederation together with the states north of the Main Line . Initially a military alliance, the contracting parties gave it a constitution in 1867, which made it a federal state dominated by Prussia, but which did justice to federalism in Germany . The constitution drafted by Bismarck anticipated that of the German Empire in essential points . The King of Prussia was the holder of the Federal Presidium and appointed the Prussian Prime Minister Bismarck as Federal Chancellor. The southern German states remained outside the North German Confederation, but entered into “ protective and defensive alliances ” with Prussia.

Bismarck's increased popularity as a result of his military success had prompted Bismarck, in the run-up to the founding of the North German Confederation, to subsequently request the Prussian state parliament to grant him impunity for the budget-free period of government. The acceptance of this indemnity bill led to the division of liberalism into a part that belongs to the authorities ( National Liberal Party ) and a part that continues to be opposition ( German Progressive Party as a rump party). The German Customs Parliament established in 1867 by Bismarck's tough conduct of negotiations and under pressure from the economy brought about the inclusion of South German representatives in an institution dominated by Prussia and North Germany. Majority resolutions replaced the veto rights of the individual states that had previously existed in the German Customs Union. Bavarian and Württemberg patriots reacted with just as much concern as the French Emperor Napoléon III. However, when the latter demanded a territorial equalization in return for France's policy of standstill towards Prussia, he inadvertently stirred up public distrust in the southern German states. This in turn strengthened their ties to Prussia.

Third War of Unification: Franco-German War

The proclamation of the German Empire (January 18, 1871) , second version of the painting for the Berlin armory by Anton von Werner , 1882. The founding event of the new state turned out to be an event in uniform due to the great importance of its obstetricians. Even civilian politicians like Bismarck show themselves in military costume. The warning sign of the Prussian state culture was the always dominant militarism

With vague promises that Luxembourg might be left to France , Bismarck had Napoléon III. made to condone his policy towards Austria. Now France was faced with a strengthened Prussia, which no longer wanted to have anything to do with the earlier territorial commitments. Relations between the two countries deteriorated noticeably. Finally, in the Emser Depesche affair , Bismarck deliberately intensified the dispute over the Spanish candidacy for the throne of the Catholic Hohenzollern Prince Leopold von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen to such an extent that the French government declared war on Prussia. This represented an alliance case for the southern German states of Bavaria , Württemberg , Baden and Hesse-Darmstadt, which is still independent south of the Main line .

After the rapid German victory in the Franco-Prussian War and the ensuing national enthusiasm throughout Germany, the southern German princes now also felt compelled to join the North German Confederation. Bismarck bought King Ludwig II of Bavaria with money from the so-called Welfenfonds from the willingness to propose the German imperial crown to King Wilhelm. The German Reich was founded as a small German, unified nation- state , which was already envisaged as a model of unification by the National Assembly in 1848/49. In the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles , Wilhelm I was proclaimed German Emperor on January 18, 1871 - the 170th anniversary of Frederick I's coronation .

As a federal state in the German Empire (1871-1918)

Prussia in the German Empire 1871 (dark blue)

Imperial Constitution

With the establishment of the Reich, the individual German states ceased to be subjects of international law and sovereign members of the European state system. They were now represented within the international society by the German Reich. As recently as 1848, the Prussian elite were self-sufficient and opposed to the national movement . At the time of the founding of the empire, Prussian particularism no longer emerged so clearly. However, there remained fears on the part of the ruling class that Prussia would withdraw completely behind the Reich.

From 1871 on, Prussia was just as much a part of the German Empire as the German Empire assumed a Prussian character. Prussia's leadership role was constitutionally anchored in Article 11, which granted the King of Prussia the presidium of the empire with the title of German Emperor . The personal union of king and emperor also resulted in the personal union of the offices of Prussian Prime Minister and Imperial Chancellor , although this was not prescribed in the constitution. The Prime Minister and Chancellor did not necessarily have to be Prussian, as the appointment of Clovis as Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst shows. There were a total of three such short interruptions, none of which worked. The Reich Chancellor needed the backing of power for Reich policy that the chairmanship of the Prussian State Ministry gave him. The designation "German Kaiser" and not "Kaiser von Deutschland" meant that the title of emperor was inferior in hierarchical terms. This created title was intended as primus inter pares in relation to the other sovereigns in the empire . A direct rule of the Prussian king as German emperor over non-Prussian territory was constitutionally not possible.

The Prussian hegemony in the Reich was based on his real power in Germany. About 2/3 of the state area was Prussian territory. About 60 percent of the population were Prussian citizens. Prussia, with its tried and tested army, was the military supremacy. Of the 36 existing divisions of the Imperial Army in 1871, 25 were Prussian. Prussia was also Germany's economic supremacy. It had the largest industry in Germany and the most deposits of usable minerals. The brown coal and hard coal deposits were also almost exclusively on Prussian territory. The large fertile agricultural areas were also on Prussian territory.

The drafting of imperial bills and the fulfillment of other imperial tasks by Prussian ministers and authorities meant that the empire was initially ruled and administered by Prussia. This superiority was reinforced by the fact that in the first few years the Reich had only a few authorities of its own and had to fall back on the Prussian authorities for the conduct of official business. In order to guarantee the constitutional tasks of the Reich, Prussia handed over several ministries and other central authorities to the Reich in the 1870s. This included the Foreign Office, the Central Bank of Prussia , the General Post Office , and the Ministry of the Navy .

As a result of this staggered transfer of institutions from Prussia to the Reich, the image of Prussian dominance changed over time. This was also structurally promoted by the Clausula antiborussica . On the one hand, Prussia received only 17 out of 58 votes in the Bundesrat, the central federal state organ of the Reich. This meant that it could be overruled by the other German states when it came to resolutions, even if this only seldom happened. In return, Prussia had the right to veto changes to the military constitution, customs laws and the imperial constitution (Articles 5, 35, 37 and 78 of the imperial constitution).

Overall, the imperial authorities emancipated themselves from Prussia and the previous relationship between Prussia and the Reich was reversed. The state secretaries of the Reich offices now pushed into the top Prussian offices. The interests of imperial politics thus took precedence over the interests of Prussia.

Foreign policy, domestic policy

The foreign policy of the new Reich was carried out in Berlin, largely by Prussian personnel under the direction of Prussia's Foreign Minister Bismarck, who was also Chancellor of the Reich. The foreign policy continuities of Prussian foreign policy were preserved even after the state was founded. The German Empire, which essentially represented an enlarged Prussia, was still geopolitically wedged between Russia and France and could find itself in an existential danger position due to a coalition of the two great powers. The status quo should be secured by continuing the traditional Eastern alliance with Russia. As before Prussia, the German Reich was able to navigate between the powers to prevent a broad anti-German coalition of the major European powers.

Between 1871 and 1887 Bismarck led the so-called Kulturkampf in Prussia , which was supposed to push back the influence of political Catholicism . Resistance from the Catholic population and the clergy, especially in the Rhineland and in the formerly Polish areas, forced Bismarck to end the dispute without any result. In the parts of the country where the majority of the population was inhabited by Poles, the Kulturkampf was accompanied by an attempt at a policy of Germanization. The Prussian settlement commission, for example, tried to acquire Polish land for German new settlers with limited success. After Bismarck's dismissal, the Germanization policy was continued by the German Ostmarkenverein , which was founded in Posen in 1894.

Wilhelm I was followed in March 1888 by Friedrich III, who was already seriously ill . who died after a reign of just 99 days. In June of the " Three Emperors Year " Wilhelm II ascended the throne. He dismissed Bismarck in 1890 and tried from then on, in late Byzantine fashion, to have a say in the highest politics of the country. The court and the court ceremony swelled again in all their splendor. The emperor endeavored to maintain his position and function as an important official or at least to give the impression that he, the king, would continue to be the most important figure in politics.

High industrialization

The KWI for Chemistry as well as Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry 1912

The period of high industrialization brought about a comprehensive modernization push for Prussia, at the height of which around 1910 the federal state of Prussia and the German Empire belonged to the group of the world's leading political, economic and technological states. The cities grew by leaps and bounds and Berlin developed into one of the largest metropolises in the world. The Ruhr area and the Rhineland also experienced unprecedented growth. Within a few years, pulsating cities were raised from insignificant provincial towns. In particular, the rural exodus but also the inhabitants from the eastern areas of Prussia contributed to this population growth on the Rhine and Ruhr. The demographics had the characteristics of a population explosion . Large families were the norm. In connection with this, epidemic outbreaks such as cholera but also pauperism were widespread. The start-up boom brought an economic development boost.

Innovation, a spirit of progress and top performance took place in Prussia in the decades around 1900. The scientification of the economy took place above all in the electrical industry , the chemical industry , in mechanical engineering and shipbuilding, and also in large-scale agriculture. This development started earlier and more strongly in Prussia than in the other German states. In connection with economic interests, numerous regional or local science-promoting societies, academies, foundations and associations were founded. This made Berlin, the Ruhr area, Upper Silesia and the Rhineland into globally important innovation clusters . The Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the Promotion of Science was trained as a central network support company .

Imperialism and German nationalism

Kohner - Kaiser Wilhelm II.jpg
Max Koner : Kaiser Wilhelm II. (1890). A French general commented on this pose with the words: "This is not a portrait, it is a declaration of war!"
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Multiple copied behavior among his majesty's subjects: male subjects as “little emperors”, here: Diederich Heßling served all the clichés of the male petty bourgeoisie ( philistine bourgeois ) of that time. Hessling is obedient to the authorities, cowardly and without moral courage. He is a follower and conformist.

The ruling imperialism led to an exaggeration of self-perception, which developed megalomaniac traits and encompassed all strata of the population. Warmongering , Germanism and masculine aggression ("We Germans fear God, but nothing else in the world") acquired the character of a widespread, culturally accepted mass phenomenon in the run-up to the First World War. The Prussian-patriarchal social model and the imperious demeanor of the state elites now also imitated the men below in the hierarchy in their immediate environment at work, in their families, on the street, in the clubs. The Prussian masculinity culture (e.g. fraternities , conscripts) of this time meant that the vast majority of men wrested unnatural harshness but also heteronormative obsessions in order to outwardly adopt the socially required type of "(real) German man" are equivalent to. This in turn shaped a structural social potential for violence and promoted the militaristic attitude of most men of that time. The misrepresentation in the culture of upbringing and socialization was exemplary in Wilhelm II, who absolutely wanted to prevent his physical disability. As a result of the suppression of the individual personality and the resulting cleavage of feelings , a type of person with an authoritarian personality spread in Prussia , who then transferred these self-restricting social forms to the next generation and thus, as a “psychological basis”, contributed to the failings of German history between 1933 and 1945.

Answering the social question

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On the Baltic Sea.- Heringsdorf , Badeleben, 1909
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Potsdam, spring parade in front of the City Palace , 1910

At the same time, however, the standard of living of society as a whole rose significantly from 1850 to 1914 . A broader bourgeois middle class developed and the top performers of the bourgeois class made it into high society . There were thus sufficient incentives and offers for integration by the (state) elites for the representatives of the bourgeois class, so that they could come to terms with the prevailing political conditions. The character of the state elites changed from feudal aristocratic to plutocratic . This was accompanied by a change in the self-portrayal of the new elites. The de facto elite reorganization in Prussia since 1850 resulted in an increase in the control competencies of the elite class, which now included both state officials and the wealthy from the economy. To an increasing extent, softer methods of rule ( soft power ) were also used, which also changed the character of the until then rather authoritarian, fatherly state . This gained a caring, quasi maternal component, which complemented the authoritarian model of the state superstructure without displacing it. At that time, the state treated its citizens more like a parent-child relationship. The state did not regard citizens as mature and independent persons.

As a result, social innovations after 1848 no longer took place in the area of ​​political participation and democratic co-determination, but predominantly in the social (welfare) area. The state's answer to the social question raised by the struggles of the working class led to new state welfare obligations, which were expressed in the beginning of social legislation . It was an attempt, after the bourgeois class found greater consideration in the state institutions after 1848 and thus became “agents of the monarchical system”, to bind the workers to the ruling system and to neutralize their radicalism and ideas of revolution. It emerged social and a wider network of social services. This was intended to combat grievances such as child labor , wage dumping and slum-like living conditions, which had affected around 30 to 35 percent of the population in the course of high industrialization.

The merit of the working class was to have shifted the focus of social development. Previously, this revolved among the bourgeois reformers around an elite-like debate about a hypothetical co-determination on a theoretical and abstract level, from which the mass of the people hardly benefited. The social discourse now dealt with very specific and practical issues that revolved around the satisfaction of individual basic needs (enough food, labor rights, limited working hours, security in emergencies, education, medical care, security, hygiene, living space).

City life in Berlin in 1912, up to date

The social starting point on the basis of which the development of society took place was still low around 1850. The majority of people in the 18th century were exposed to even greater hardships in their social life and legally provided with even less protection (people at the level of objects without basic rights ). In this respect, all problems and improvements already bore signs of a more advanced civilization with higher cultural standards than before.

Around 1900 there was at the same time a heterogeneous club-related social life in sport, culture, and leisure. Tourism became increasingly important. The pluralism of opinion became more and more apparent.

As a result, the development of society as a whole is positive, even if the problems and areas of conflict in society remained large due to the low initial level of development during the imperial era. Exact measurement data to determine the ratio are missing (apart from the political election results), but the assumption is plausible that there is an almost balanced relationship between liberal-progressive-democratic and socially-progressive, in some cases politically radicalized, forces on the one hand and the backward-looking, aggressively acting nationally -reactionary forces on the other hand in Prussian society before the First World War. Both sides were roughly in balance.

The German empire increasingly isolated itself internationally as a result of the German militaristic threat culture , which was expressed in excessive armament. The spark for the outbreak of the Great War in 1914 ended the previous era in which the kingdom went under.

End of the monarchy in Prussia

General mood in Prussia before dying
Every shot - a soot! Every push - a French! (Supplement: every step a Brit!) Now let's thresh them!

The Kingdom of Prussia was an economic, military, cultural and scientific heavyweight in the world. On the one hand, global leader in various areas, the political system of Prussia, despite the progress made in the 19th century, remained structurally backward and not adaptable enough compared to social and economic development, which did not stand still but steadily picked up speed.

New social forms with mass affiliations (trade unions, parties) had emerged since high industrialization and demanded broad participation . The old elites of Prussia, which existed as a combination of the military dominated by the Junk aristocracy and the civil service as agents of internal state formation, were no longer able to control the mobilized society integratively and to hold it together in the last decades of the monarchy. State and society got into unresolved contradictions until 1918, the Prussian guiding maxims, which were manifested in an immaterial social contract of the bourgeois, monarchical and aristocratic elites of that time and which promoted the rise of Prussia in the 17th and 18th centuries, worked under the fundamentally changed conditions of the late period 19th and early 20th century not anymore.

The state forces, incapable of integrating external parts of society into the political-administrative system , deepened the political-structural backwardness to the extent that, due to a socio-political reform backlog, significant socio-political forces in Prussia as well as in other equally politically backward states of Central, Eastern and Southern Europe accumulated outside state power and then explosively discharged in the crisis situation of the First World War (" The old rot has collapsed; militarism is done for ").

On 9 November 1918 as a result of the November Revolution , took place in Berlin on the proclamation of the Republic . Wilhelm II abdicated as King of Prussia and as German Emperor. With a republican constitution as the Free State of Prussia, the Prussian state became part of the German Empire. The Prussian royal crown is now kept at Hohenzollern Castle near Hechingen .


National income

According to contemporary estimates, the national income of Prussia in 1804 was 248 million RT . Of these, 41 million were RT. earned in the manufacturing sector (excluding handicrafts) and another 43 million RT in the guild-influenced brewery and brandy distillery .

Between 1871 and 1914, the national income of Prussia grew four times faster than the population of that time, which significantly increased the average net social income per capita. In 1913, only Hamburg and Saxony had higher per capita income values ​​than Prussia.

Economic sectors


Around 1800, Prussia's economic structure showed typical characteristics of an agricultural state . The cultivation of cereals, especially wheat , rye , barley and oats dominated . Legumes , flax , madder and tobacco were also grown around 1800 . An intensive timber industry was also operated. In addition, the rural population operated extensive livestock farming . 10.2 million sheep of sheep breeding generated 1,000 tons of wool per year , which was processed for textile production. The total stock of 5.06 million cattle, 2.48 million pigs and small livestock were used, among other things, for meat production. 1.6 million horses were kept for the economy and the army. There were a total of three royal stud farms in Trakehnen , Neustadt an der Dosse and Triesdorf .

The Emden herring fishing company , founded in 1769, operated logger fishing and around 1800 deployed over 50 jets and two hunting ships .

Production of grains 1804
variety Harvest in t Own consumption in t
wheat 400,000 280,000
rye 2,000,000 1,900,000
barley 1,100,000 1,020,000
oats 1,300,000 1,200,000

The grain surpluses were mostly exported to Western Europe. Taken together, Prussia produced a total of around 4.8 million tons of grain around 1800. Germany , around nine times more populous, produced 45.3 million tons of grain in 2016 on a similarly large national area.

The circumstances of the establishment of potato cultivation in Prussia were stylized into a historical legend and persist in the collective memory of today's residents.

In terms of natural resources, Prussia had salt, which was mined in 14 salt mines in 1800. In addition, alum was promoted. Around 1800, hard coal was mainly extracted in Westphalia (50 percent of total production) in 135 mines and in Silesia (33 percent of total production).

Of building materials were Ummendorfer sandstone , Bebertaler sandstone , Rüdersdorfer limestone , Prieborner marble , large-Kunz Dorfer Marble further promoted and.

Tertiary sector: commerce, banking and services

In the first decades of the kingdom, Prussian trade was at a low level of development. There was supra-regionally significant wholesaling only in the few capitals of the kingdom, primarily Berlin, Königsberg and Magdeburg. Land transit between west and east was more important than exchange via seaports. A separate maritime shipping of overriding importance did not yet exist. The state trade policy began a protective tariff and privilege policy ( monopoly rights ) to promote local businesses.

The "King of Prussia", the first ship of the Royal Prussian-Asian Company of Emden

The money economy developed slowly. In the 18th century, large parts of the rural kingdom were not yet connected to the few monetary economic centers in the big cities, but continued to operate their own extensive natural farming, pasture and forestry.

As early as the 1670s and 1680s, Brandenburg-Prussia tried to take part in the triangular trade with slaves in the Atlantic with the Brandenburg-African Company , but in the long run it was unable to cope with the European competitive pressure. In the 1740s Frederick II tried to conclude trade agreements with Spain and France to promote the Silesian linen export, but was unsuccessful. In this situation he set up the Asian Company in Emden , which began trading with China. Four ships sent to the canton returned with loads of silk, tea and china. The naval war that broke out in 1755 ended the activities of the over-trading company after a few years for lack of protection by its own naval war fleet , which the Prussian land power could not afford.

The court bankers, the Splitgerber & Daum banking and trading company, and the (Berlin) Jews dominated Prussia's financial affairs in the 18th century. The Jewish Community of Berlin was in 1750 from 2,200 people in 320 family households. 78 percent of the mostly wealthy Jewish heads of household in Berlin were active in the trade . 119 executives working in wholesale as moneylenders, money traders changer, Münzlieferanten, bankers, 42 were working as pawnbrokers and 28 as commission goods -, exhibition and wine merchant. Veitel Heine Ephraim and Daniel Itzig were important financiers . State activities in the public finance system did not take place at all at first.

Economic history

Economic expansion under King Friedrich-Wilhelm I (1713–1740)

During the reign of the soldier king, “making pluses”, ie striving for lasting economic gain, was the focus of economic policy. During his reign, Prussia achieved economic stability and prosperity. Only the foundation of an orderly state budget made the rise to one of the economic powers of Germany possible in the 18th century and made the military expansion of his son, Friedrich II , conceivable in the following decades.

Royal ban on wearing textiles made abroad, Berlin 1719

A motor of the positive development of the centralized economy was the Prussian army , which had to be supplied. In 1713 Friedrich Wilhelm I founded the Royal Warehouse in Berlin, a cloth manufacture that employed 4,730 people in 1738. The foundation stone for the local textile industry was laid in 1717 by the settlement of weavers in Luckenwalde . With a ban on the export of domestic wool in 1718, the king secured further processing in his country.

A rifle manufacture was established in Spandau and Potsdam from 1722 . The skilled workers required were mainly recruited in Liège , a center for arms production. Among other things, the Great Military Orphanage in Potsdam, which was founded in the same year, provided for the offspring . The operator of the rifle factory was Splitgerber & Daum , a trading company with royal privileges , which leased other metalworking factories and became the largest arms manufacturer in Prussia. The main buyers of the weapons were the Prussian army. The trading house produced copper sheets (roofing), copper kettles (breweries, boilers), brass parts (containers, fittings, hinges) and iron and steel products (drills, scissors, knives) for civilian use.

The royal dike commission for the Oder began its work in 1716 . The drainage of Havelländisches and Rhinluch (northwest of Nauen) brought good gains in relatively productive soil. Religious refugees from Franconia and Swabia were assigned settlement sites in poor areas in the Uckermark in order to make them arable.

In order to control commercial activity, the king issued a handicraft order in 1733, which placed all guilds under state supervision, curtailed their rights, forbade connections to neighboring states and controlled the wandering of journeymen.

The economic upswing was sustained, because the funding was no longer limited primarily to the court-centered branches of industry - as under Friedrich I - but far beyond the radius of the residences, and was concentrated in the military sector, which was almost everywhere in the old Prussian state was present.

War economy, crises and economic recovery (1740–1806)

As a result of the costly wars (1740–1742, 1744–1745, 1756–1763) in the second half of the 18th century under Frederick II, the Prussian economy, which was largely shattered, gained an economically important region (textile industry, mineral resources) with the conquest of Silesia . Progress was also made through the drainage and reclamation of the Oderbruch , the Netzebruch and the Warthebruch and the settlement of a large number of farmers and craftsmen. The king promoted the expansion of waterways, such as the connection between Berlin and Stettin through the Finow Canal , the Bromberger Canal , the regulation of the networks and, in the west, the Ruhr canalization . The road network, however, remained in poor condition; Because of the high costs, the construction of permanent roads could only be started after the death of Frederick the Great.

The systematic creation of grain magazines made it possible to control grain prices even in times of need. Frederick II also particularly promoted the silk industry. For this purpose, numerous manufacturers, skilled workers and specialists were brought to Prussia and domestic workers and auxiliary workers were trained. This was achieved with the help of gifts, advances, privileges, chair bonuses, export bonuses, apprenticeship fees, tax exemption for raw materials and the import ban on foreign products. As a result, the country's demand for silk could be met and a surplus could be generated for export. The cotton industry, which was still banned under King Friedrich Wilhelm (1713–1740) in order not to endanger its own wool weaving, was promoted. The first cotton factory was built in 1742, and in 1763 there were already ten cotton factories in Berlin. Compared to the silk industry, this branch of the economy managed almost without state support. In 1763 the Berlin porcelain manufacturer KPM was bought by the Prussian state.

The king also had several factories built at his own expense, for which private entrepreneurs did not want to take the risk:

  • Clock factory in Berlin and Friedrichsthal (1781 for 141,235 thalers)
  • Paper mill in Spechthausen (1781 for 56,000 thalers)
  • Berlin paint factory (56,000 thalers)
  • Yarn dye works in Caputh (1765 for 30,000 thalers)

With the manufactured goods and handicraft goods produced in the country, almost the entire domestic demand could be satisfied and, moreover, a larger export could be achieved, with which the necessary import of raw materials could be more than offset from a fiscal point of view. The trade balance - in 1740 still with half a million thalers in deficit, in 1786 with three million thalers in surplus - was made positive for the first time under Frederick the Great.

In the period after the death of Frederick II, from 1786 to 1806, there were disputes in Prussia between the supporters of the ruling mercantile system and the advocates of the newly emerging liberal currents. Under Friedrich Wilhelm II , people contented themselves with dismantling some of the protectionist barriers and prohibitions:

  • Elimination of monopolies (tobacco administration, coffee-distilling monopoly, sugar-boiling monopoly) and simultaneous ban on new monopolies
  • Abolition of customs duties and excise duties (silk, cotton, yarn, hides)
  • Elimination of the hated French directors (a financial management agency staffed with French officials, which was very unpopular among the population)

Under this milder protectionism , the Prussian economy experienced a significant upswing in the course of a good external economic situation. Prussia had made significant economic progress in the century and a half between the end of the Thirty Years' War in 1648 and the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars in 1806. The most modern state of the 17th and 18th centuries was one of the most economically developed states in Europe around 1800. Nevertheless, around 1800 the majority of employed people in Prussia were still working in agriculture.

Economic reforms, mechanization, industrial revolution (1807–1871)

The painting Eisenwalzwerk (Modern Cyclops) shows a factory hall in Germany during high industrialization, around 1875

The catastrophe of the Napoleonic occupation in 1807 brought Prussia to the brink of collapse, also economically. In this respect, the reform laws of the time after 1806, as far as their economic areas and consequences were concerned, were necessary to keep the state economically and financially alive and to make a later war of liberation possible. The Prussian economic reform after 1806 was one of the more successful innovations of the Prussian reforms at the beginning of the 19th century.

The nominal peasant liberation was the prerequisite for the economic upswing in Prussia over the next few decades. The same applied to the granting of complete freedom of trade , since this had made the mobility of large crowds and the movement of the rural inhabitants of Prussia into the country's growing industrial cities possible in the first place. The Prussian state administration, for its part, took a number of important measures to help the country's economy, which was then ailing, on its feet. With the Trade and Customs Act of May 26, 1818, Prussia achieved its own uniform customs area without internal tariffs.

After all internal trade barriers in Prussia had fallen, the German Customs Union was founded in 1834 on the initiative of Prussia . Prussia had - partly because of its fragmented national territory - a self-interest in abolishing the customs borders in the German Confederation. This measure stimulated domestic German trade and contributed significantly to economic growth in the following decades.

In the course of industrialization , a number of land, waterways and canals were built that connected the west with the east across Germany. In the Oberland of West and East Prussia, the Oberland Canal was created , connecting the Baltic Sea and Elbing in the north with Masuria in the south. With the establishment of the Royal Prussian Elbstrom-Bauverwaltung in 1865, the Elbe was divided into six districts, which had to supervise the construction of bridges and canals, the ferries, mills, docks and dikes. Previously insignificant regions ( Ruhr area , Saar area and Upper Silesian industrial area ) developed in the period after 1815 through the exploitation of coal deposits and the later railway construction into prosperous centers of the mining industry and mechanical engineering . This increased the economic weight of Prussia compared to Austria in the German Confederation.

For a long time, Prussia lagged behind internationally in railway construction. This also had consequences for its economy. So it came about that American grain, British and Belgian coal and pig iron and other articles were cheaper than the domestic products. This was because England, Belgium and the USA already had efficient rail networks for the transport of bulk goods. The first larger private railways were therefore laid in 1837 with the Rheinische Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft (Cologne - Aachen - Belgian border) and in 1843 with the Köln-Mindener Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft from the Rhineland to the navigable ports in Minden (with access to the Bremen ports). The state of Prussia itself was active in railway construction in 1850 with the Royal Westphalian Railway Company and the Prussian Eastern Railway and in 1875 with the Berlin Northern Railway . As a result, private railways increasingly came under state control through financial support, purchase or expropriation (after the Austro-Prussian War of 1866).

Although Prussia rose to a great power in economic terms in the first half of the 19th century, the Hohenzollern state was dominated by agriculture well into the 19th century.

Production figures of important industrial goods and development of the railway network in Prussia (1815-1913)
year Hard coal Pig iron stole Railway network
1815 998,000 t - - -
1825 1,292,000 t 40,837 t - -
1835 1,709,000 t 65,591 t - -
1845 3,564,000 t 85,100 t - 845 km
1850 4,419,000 t 135,000 t 149,300 t 3,144 km
1855 8,670,000 t 301,400 t 317,400 t 4,353 km
1865 18,592,000 t 772,000 t 611,000 t 7,647 km
1875 33,520,000 t 1,393,000 t 1,346,000 t 13,703 km
1885 52,977,000 t 2,664,000 t 2,348,000 t 22,201 km
1895 72,751,000 t 3,778,000 t 4,346,000 t 26,700 km
1905 113,188,000 t 7,106,000 t 8,557,000 t 32,367 km
1913 180,057,000 t 12,260,000 t 11,860,000 t 36,032 km

Economy in the German Empire (1871-1918)

Although the political importance of Prussia in the newly founded German Empire declined since 1871, Prussia was still the most economically powerful country in the empire. The Prussian Rhineland , Berlin and Silesia , the province of Saxony and the Rhine-Main region were the most important Economic centers of the empire. Industrialization in Prussia also increased steadily in the German Empire after 1871. This is shown by the increase in the proportion of the labor force employed in industry, craft and mining. The proportion of those employed in the secondary sector and mining rose from 30.4% to 42.8% between 1871 and 1907.

However, this process varied from region to region: In the province of East Prussia , the share of the secondary sector and mining increased from 1871 to 1907 from 16.1% to 20.4%, in the Rhine province, however, from 41.3% to 54.5% . However, for a long time the degree of industrialization in Prussia as a whole was below the realm average.

In 1913 Prussia generated 62% of the net national income of the German Reich. The number corresponded exactly to the proportion of the Prussian population in the total imperial population.

From 1880 to 1888, most of the private railways were nationalized . At the end of the First World War, the Prussian state railways formed a 37,500 km railway network. The regular additional income of the Prussian State Railways also served to balance the state budget.


The society as a totality of all individuals and groups on the territory of the Prussian state was formed from no single self-contained supreme guiding category as since the 19th century, the term nation was summarized. Neither a homogeneous social unit nor a cultural nation developed . There were always different regional, cultural and social worlds on the territory of Prussia. The establishment of a nation under the title of Prussia took place after 1815 only in a rudimentary way and mainly limited to the old Prussian provinces, excluding the New Prussian areas on the Rhine and in Westphalia.

Representative (feudal) and bourgeois publics

In the first decades of the 18th century, Prussia, as in other European countries, was almost exclusively a representative public . Their systemic characteristics did not separate sufficiently between the private and the public , but only between the common and the privileged . The representative public was carried by the court ceremony , i.e. the Prussian court , court life in general. This meant the exclusion of the people from the public. Everything non-courtly was therefore a backdrop and in a passive watching role, while the courtly occupied the stage on which the subjects had to orient themselves. In the further course of the 18th century the feudal powers, church, principality and gentry, to which the representative public was liable, disintegrated into a public and a private sphere . From the end of the 17th century, communications in Central Europe became generally accessible and thus acquired a public character. The print media assumed the role of door openers for the constrained middle class on their way to maturity. Among the most important periodicals of the Enlightenment that counted Berlinische monthly . The journalistic style contained in the majority of the contributions a discursive, dialogue-like character. Other well-known newspapers were the Schlesische Zeitung , Schlesische Provinzialblätter , Spenersche Zeitung , and the Vossische Zeitung (since 1785: the Berlin newspaper Königlich Privilegirte von Staats- und schultten things).

From the newly won private sphere, which arose alongside the state-representative public, the pre-form of the bourgeois public developed. This was initially the literary public. The basis for this was formed by the Enlightenment spirit that was active in Europe and America in the 18th century . This promoted the emergence of a responsible class of residents who no longer saw themselves only as obedient subjects with material, machine-like basic features, but as self-confident individuals with innate natural rights . As the audience a genuine group from the social elite was that fotbildete to selbstaufklärerisch, emerged as a new social categorization, later commonly referred to as the educated middle class characterized.

The increasing independence of these “ citizens ” promoted the formation of autonomous social networks that were no longer influenced by monarchical-state regulations. The networks of associations and societies functioned like popular assemblies with free speech. They should allow the private public to reflect on themselves and the most important issues of the time. This encouraged the emergence of reading societies . Some circles and circles met informally. Even bookstores were important meeting places for the newly formed public. In addition to reading societies, lodges and patriotic non-profit societies, there were also numerous literary and philosophical associations and groups of scholars who specialized in science, medicine or languages. The practitioners of this emerging civil society in Prussia in the mid-18th century included writers, poets, publishers, club, society and lodge members , readers and subscribers. These intellectual groups dealt with the great questions of the time, literary as well as scientific and political. Important personalities of the time in Prussia were, for example, Karl Wilhelm Ramler or the publisher Friedrich Nicolai .

As a result, the once very quiet and lethargic Prussian society of the 17th century emerged into a loud, lively and diverse public with open discourses .

The literary public later changed further to a political public, which, based on the officially regulated public, established itself as a critique of public power as a whole. The censorship , which was initially lifted after Frederick II came to power in 1740 , which is unique in Europe, was beneficial . Criticism of the political system and the monarchs was thus possible for the first time.

This fundamental formation process is also known as the Berlin Enlightenment .

Basically, the feudal and bourgeois publics continued to exist side by side until the end of the monarchy in 1918, even if a steady loss of substance and importance of the monarchical, aristocratic public culture was discernible.

Prussian Agrarian Constitution

In the 17th century in the East Elbe areas of what was then Brandenburg-Prussia, the manor rule prevailed, which led to the disenfranchisement of the peasant class . Compulsory labor and clod binding shaped the personally unfree stratum of the rural population from then on. The Prussian state, on the other hand, had only limited design competencies from the district level downwards. Essential powers lay in the hands of the aristocratic landowners, the Junkers in the various provinces, far away from the government headquarters in Berlin. The class of landowners in turn was divided into a very small number of very wealthy and wealthy aristocratic families who could control almost all of the provincial politics and a larger number of minor landowners who had little influence on provincial, district and local politics.

As long as there was inheritance subordination , there was no social mobility . This only changed with the liberation of the peasants at the beginning of the 19th century. By releasing large parts of the rural population, a real rural exodus into the large cities of the state began, thereby fulfilling one of the basic requirements of the industrial revolution , a large and cheap labor force.

Even if the power of the aristocratic landowners declined, this ultra-conservative and reactionary (elite) stratum formed an essential cornerstone of the Prussian social contract until the end of the kingdom .

From the class society to the class society

The late lodger of Heinrich Zille
Heinrich Zille: Differences in class also when sitting. (Comtor for Comte, French Count)

In the last decades of the 18th century, the class-based society experienced profound changes. These were stronger in the cities than in the countryside. The urban environment was shaped by the bourgeoisie . This social class traditionally consisted of the guild-shaped craftsmen and some patricians , who at the same time made up the urban upper class on the city ​​councils . With the emergence of the Enlightenment and mercantilism around 1700, this social class experienced a dissection and differentiation, as a result of which the petty-bourgeois craftsmen were pushed to the edge. Instead, a small but influential layer of the upper classes , consisting of manufacturers, large merchants and money exchange bankers, formed the upper class . It existed in the largest cities in the kingdom and had commercial and residential buildings. Important representatives of the Prussian upper class in the 18th century were Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky , Wilhelm Kaspar Wegely , Johann Jacob Schickler and Friedrich Heinrich Berendes . The civil service of the Prussian state also formed an increasingly concise urban grouping. The military population, often billeted in the 18th century, consisting of serving soldiers, invalids and soldiers' wives including children, formed a legally separate intermediate layer to civil society in the 18th century.

In the country existed in the east of the Elbe a distinct areas Junker Embossed Gutsherrschaft continued. The local social culture was often advertised in historiography with "economic backwardness", "Junker arbitrariness" and the spirit of submission . For example, beating was a common discipline used by the landlords. The simple rural population was loyal to the king and believed in the legend of the "just king" . The state itself forbade gross abuse of the peasants, but at the same time supported the landlord class, as compulsory labor and clods were tolerated by the state for a long time. The state deployed the military against peasant revolts , which occurred several times in Silesia from 1765 to 1793, 1811 and 1848. Peasant liberation, replacement , rural exodus and the slow implementation of wage labor led to a slow change in rural conditions.

In the 19th century, the segregation criteria of society changed from the usual births to employment classes , defined by the position in the emerging economic order of Manchester capitalism , which was shaped by Adam Smith . Remnants of estates and state interventions shaped the development of society in the 19th century. Due to the high social inequality in the social structures with large income differences, a distinctive economic underclass formed in the cities. This consisted of manufacturing workers who only experienced a self-confident development as a separate social class in the course of the 19th century. Day laborers and beggars formed considerable shares in Prussia's civil society in the 18th and 19th centuries. The lower (large) urban classes often lived as sleepers on the verge of homelessness.

The class society eroded slowly through education and professional development of differentiation, increase prosperity and interventions of the state.

Feudal-capitalist ruling caste

Differences between a Junker and a worker in Prussia around 1900
"Do not come back next year to Europe Miss Astor?" - "No, papa bear so hard to Armeleutgeruch the European financial world."

Explanation: look at the USA / American way of life
, the new Prussian elite: High Society / nobility and Monetary nobility in Prussia in 1908

Prussia's system of rule was based on royal rule. The king secured his power in the country through the landed gentry and in the cities through his garrisons and the state bureaucracy. The urban bourgeoisie as a political actor initially only survived in the local urban self-government . The Enlightenment promoted the emergence of a new middle class class of educated citizens who developed new ideas and concepts for participation and demanded a say. As a result, the feudal class came on the defensive for the first time between 1789 and 1815, but was able to consolidate again until it was challenged again for the second time since March by the further strengthened bourgeois class.

The (political) bourgeoisie had withdrawn again after the unsuccessful revolution of 1848 and reduced themselves to their core economic competencies. Political power left it back to the "old elites ". The transformation from an agricultural to an industrial society did not lead to a change in the feudalist political power structures, but it did lead to profound changes in the composition of the social structures .

New interest groups emerged along new socio-economic lines of conflict . They did not have any political power, but based on their sovereignty over capital, production and labor they had significant means of power, which gave them great influence over state politics. They represented new elites who had caught up with the old feudal elites since 1850. The new elites gathered in free business associations beyond the long-standing public chambers of industry and commerce . In the state itself, the old feudal elites retained their leading position with a share of one to two thirds. This socially established and uniformed class came predominantly from the central and eastern provinces of Prussia and had a rural character, Protestant, male and aristocratic. They claimed to embody the common good . Their form and habitus corresponded to the level of development of the political system in Prussia, with its unfinished constitution, according to which the monarchical-bureaucratic authoritarian state ruled itself in a mixture of patronizing and caring for its underage half-citizens and former subjects.

“At first he'll have fun for a few years with the recruiting fistula blade. After the military service he would take a wife, father a few children and cultivate the land on his father's estate. (...) In ten years (...) he will be a fat-fat, mustached landlord who (...) disgusts Jews and French and beats dogs and servants in the most brutal way when he is bullied by his wife . On the king's birthday he would get drunk, scream 'Vivat' and otherwise talk shop about horses. "

- Life planning of a typical East Elbian Junker, according to Bismarck

However, as a result of industrialization, the nobility lost their economic primacy, based on landed property and agriculture, to the bourgeoisie . What they kept was their reputation and high social rank, which were withheld from the upper classes in Prussia. Unlike in the Anglo-American cultural area, the economic bourgeoisie lacked an independent class consciousness in Prussia. Instead, the bourgeois elite appealed to the old feudal elite. As a waiver of participation in political power, the nobility accepted them into the nobility class (marriage, ennobling ). This gave them the same rank and reputation in Prussian society. Even otherwise, the "nouveau riche" copied the lifestyles of the nobility and bought and respect as manors . There was a quasi-amalgamation of a feudal-capitalist ruling class in Prussia.

Sociopolitical movements

The differentiation of civil society , which was developing far from the state , picked up speed in the 19th century. Both the bourgeois class and the working class formed further lower classes of their own, which also heterogenized and developed in different social directions.

National liberalism, Prussian patriotism, German nationalism

The shocks of the French Revolution gave rise to unification efforts in Germany, which were primarily supported by the enlightened, urban bourgeois class. After Jena, the Tugendbund was founded in Königsberg in 1808. This was considered by the king to be the first revolutionary cell, a movement that actually did not exist as a closed formation. The intellectual leaders were Ernst Moritz Arndt , Friedrich Schleiermacher and Johann Gottlieb Fichte .

The supporters of German unification efforts were disproportionately often among the war volunteers in Prussia during the wars of liberation. Vigilante groups and voluntary organizations were the result of the wave of patriotism. A total of 30,000 men in the Prussian armed forces, around 12.5 percent of the total strength, made up these Freikorps , of which the Lützow hunters were the most famous. These were independent and armed groups outside the monarchical structures. The emotional patriotism of the volunteers, who were also provided with potentially subversive visions, was permeated with the idea of ​​an ideal political order for Germany and Prussia. They did not take their oath on the king, but only on the German fatherland. They saw the war against France as a popular uprising . The common intersection of political content with the monarchical system was therefore extremely small.

During this phase, the German national movement was closely linked to liberalism . Its left wing in particular aimed at a national democracy: the small states that were perceived as anachronistic and reactionary should be replaced by a liberal nation-state with equal citizens.

From the youthful political dissatisfaction after the end of the wars of liberation, which meant the end of national hopes, the Turner movement , which was especially important for Prussia, and the fraternities as quasi-political centers emerged. The movement quickly spread to other universities. After the Wartburg Festival , both movements were banned for fear of a resurgence of Jacobinism . The national and liberal movement was badly hit organizationally and thrown back in its development for 20 years. The German national movement under the leadership of Barthold Georg Niebuhr , Friedrich Ludwig Jahn , Karl Theodor Welcker and Joseph Görres had around 40,000 followers.

Many of the bourgeoisie responded to the conservative turnaround that had occurred in Prussia by withdrawing into the domestic sphere. An apolitical style of living and life geared towards comfort and tranquility with a pronounced sociable life with strong links to romanticism prevailed among the better-off bourgeois circles. The term Biedermeier illustrates the retreat into the private domestic sphere forced by reactionary politics. Despite the restoration of the monarchical order, the bourgeoisie and the universities in particular continued to promote liberal and national ideas.

In the long run, the state actors learned to harness the mobilization potential of the idea of ​​national unification. A synthesis emerged in which popular and dynastic elements were viewed as complementary components. Despite all contradictions and contradictions, the Prussian war against Napoleon was ultimately rededicated to a national liberation war and the national liberal movement was thus curbed by the state .

Labor movement

The labor movement was the largest democratic emancipation movement in Prussia. It formed part of the European social emancipation process between 1789 and 1918. The need arose from the social consequences ( social question ) of industrialization, population exposure and rural exodus, which had produced a broad stratum of impoverished and dispossessed day laborers and wage workers without rights ( pauperism ).

In addition, the bourgeoisie in Prussia found it difficult to assert its interests against the traditional ruling classes. Politically, after the failure of the revolution of 1848/49, the bourgeois class had been weakened for a long time and accepted the structures given from above and henceforth integrated itself into them. From then on, the workforce took over the unusual role of renewal and Reformation grouping.

The prologue events for the founding of the workers 'movement, formed in workers' associations , the Social Democratic Party and trade unions, formed the revolution of 1848. Its formative phase took place in the 1860s and 1870s. First, however, the Central Committee of Workers was established in Berlin in April 1848 under the leadership of Stephan Born , who convened a General German Workers' Congress in Berlin on August 23 . The General German Workers' Union was founded there . Influenced by the New Era in Prussia, a new national movement emerged and with it, partly also recursively influenced, new workers' associations emerged. These strove for autonomy from bourgeois-liberal tutelage and, since 1862, demanded independent workers' associations. This resulted in the formation of the ADAV , whose area of ​​activity encompassed the core areas of Prussia. Overall, the labor movement was organized across Germany, as the founding of the SPD in 1869, initially as the SDAP in Eisenach, showed. From then on, Leipzig was its organizational and network-related center.

Social democracy was critical of Bismarck's policies and became an opposition party that rejected the system. This reacted with the socialist law and began a wave of persecution.


Friedrich Wilhelm I in the school painting by Adolph Menzel

In the course of the early Enlightenment and the effect of Halle Pietism in the Prussian state, a royal edict introduced compulsory schooling in the Prussian states in 1717 . The state administration, which was not very well developed at the time, did not have the means to control school attendance . There was also a lack of the necessary finances to establish a comprehensive and professional school system. The emerging village schools of simple cliff school level continued to be run by sextons . The edict of Friedrich Wilhelm I had little effect in practice, but formed the basis for the general school regulations that Friedrich II issued in 1763. By law, compulsory schooling was once again confirmed and deepened. It envisaged compulsory schooling of eight instead of six years. Classes should take place regularly three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon, according to a fixed curriculum and with properly trained teachers. At the beginning of the 19th century, only just under 60 percent of children went to school regularly. That only changed when child labor was banned by law.

In 1804 there were eight universities on the territory of the Prussian state.

university students was standing
University of Halle 634 1802
University of Koenigsberg 300 1802
( University of Erlangen ) 300 1801
University of Wroclaw 239 1803
( Talmud school ) Fürth 200 1797
Brandenburg University of Frankfurt 180
Old University of Duisburg 67 1804
( University of Erfurt ) 50

In addition, there was the Prussian Academy of Arts and the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin , which were founded as academic learned societies in Berlin around 1700 and built up a great reputation among international artists and scholars.

In the course of the Prussian reforms , the educational system was also reformed , to which Wilhelm von Humboldt was commissioned. The latter presented a liberal reform program that completely turned education in Prussia upside down. The kingdom received a unified, standardized public education system that took up the latest educational developments ( Pestalozzi's pedagogy). In addition to imparting specialist and technical skills, the intellectual independence of the students should be encouraged. A central department was created at ministerial level, which was given responsibility for the creation of curricula , textbooks and learning aids. Teaching colleges were set up to train suitable staff for the chaotic elementary schools. A standardized system of state tests and inspections was created.

In 1810, today's Humboldt University in Berlin was founded as Friedrich-Wilhelms University . Soon afterwards this gained a predominant position among the Protestant German states.

The expansion and professionalization of teacher training made rapid progress after 1815. In the 1840s, more than 80 percent of children between the ages of six and fourteen attended elementary school . At the time, only Saxony and New England achieved a similarly high rate . The illiteracy rate was correspondingly low .

Prussia's education system and the promotion of science have also been viewed as exemplary internationally since the early 19th century. The effectiveness, the wide range of accessibility and the liberal tone of the facilities were admired. Already at this time the children were taught to use their intellectual abilities themselves by teachers who no longer made use of the classic authoritarian means (beatings). Punishments for misconduct or means of generating fear were no longer part of the educational repertoir of the teaching staff at the time. In the contemporary judgment of international witnesses from progressive societies, amazement at the simultaneous existence of such a progressive educational system within a despotic state prevailed.


The arrival of the pleasure yacht "Friedrich" on March 8, 1708 in Berlin was a highly publicized event. The yacht was one of the king's three pleasure yachts and is said to have cost 100,000 RT. Above all, it served to glorify the Prussian kingship, in whose service the cultural works of that time were placed
Painting by a Prussian court painter: "Pig baiting during a hunt by Friedrich Wilhelm I in the south of Potsdam or near Wusterhausen in autumn in the 1730s";
Rudeness, awkwardness and lack of direction characterize the early stage of development of Prussian art, in a state that had not yet reached its climax
Painting by Adolph Menzel : Crown Prince Friedrich visits the Prussian court painter Pesne

Definition of terms

The core areas of state culture (buildings, monuments, celebrations), cultural statehood (state funding and supervision in schools, universities, museums, theaters, etc.) and civil society outside the state ( independent art scene , big city life, labor movement), but also in a broader sense, become Prussian culture Areas of education, science and the Christian churches included.

The culture in the Kingdom of Prussia encompassed intellectual and social forms of life, both material and immaterial. The cultural area was subdivided several times. The core formed the high culture area , which includes the fine arts (painting, sculpture, architecture). In addition, there are music, literature and the total art genres of theater and opera. Educational and scientific disciplines, religion and state culture (memorial days, monuments, rituals) completed the expanded concept of culture.

The culture of Prussia was divided into the European-dominated art epochs ( Baroque , Classicism , Sturm und Drang , Romanticism , Biedermeier , Impressionism , Historicism , Gründerzeit , Art Nouveau , Expressionism ) but also according to regional aspects. Culture and art should create expression and interpretation of the world and represent the state, church or social groups.


In the 17th century, the Prussian area was considered culturally lagging behind the other imperial territories. Until the bourgeois class was formed, it was primarily the small stratum of the high nobility who received funding for culture. Significant cultural advances were made under Friedrich Wilhelm von Brandenburg , which his successor Friedrich III./I. intensified. In portrait painting, Antoine Pesne's appointment to Berlin as court painter in 1710 had a decisive effect , as he trained numerous students in his 46-year career and worked nationwide. The first public monument in Berlin, the equestrian statue of the Great Elector , became a major work of baroque sculpture .

After the first cultural heyday at the beginning of the Prussian kingdom under Friedrich I, there was an abrupt change in all cultural life in 1713 under the successor Friedrich Wilhelm I, which lasted until 1740. The military invaded all of cultural life. Portrait painting in Prussia declined sharply. The mediocrity of the works of art by the court painter Dismar Degen shaped the style of the entire art sector in Prussia at that time. When Frederick II came to power, a higher culture developed again in the Prussian state. Frederick II pushed the state's mandate to enhance national culture and at the same time served his own monarchical need for representation. In the 1740s, Prussia's first opera, the Royal Court Opera in Berlin , was created, later supplemented by a royal library as part of the Forum Fridericianum in Berlin. The plans for the square were discussed in the growing Prussian public through publications in the Berlin newspapers and during discussions in the salons. The most central square in Prussia became a Residenzplatz without a residence, which differentiated it from other European palace squares. With this prominent urban planning system, the makers made it clear that the representation of the state was decoupled from that of the Prussian dynasty.

During the reign of Frederick II, a regional expression of Rococo arose , which is known as Frederician Rococo . Compared to the style of the time, the decorations are mostly more reserved, delicate and elegant and go back to the work of the plasterer and sculptor Johann August Nahl and the builder Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff .

From then on, the state of Prussia maintained a court orchestra at the financial level of a medium-sized power. The expansion of the residences in the Berlin area was intensified. Dozens of new city ​​palaces were built in Berlin, geared towards representation and magnificence . New theater buildings, such as the French Comedy House or the Royal Playhouse in Potsdam for a short time , were built.

Beginning with the decades of peace that followed after 1763, Prussia began to flourish in culture. It continued even after 1800 with the support of the following kings. Alongside Weimar and as its successor, Berlin became Germany's most important intellectual and cultural center.

Andreas Schlueter opened, the court builders Johann Friedrich Grael and Philipp Gerlach shaped, Carl Gotthard Langhans and Friedrich Gilly completed the Prussian style. The influences of the Prussian state through government policy on society shaped the characteristics and formation of cultural forms. Accordingly, militarism , the Prussian civil service with its postulated virtues and Kant's philosophy also had an impact on the development of the Prussian style. This also expressed the masculine character of the Prussian state, understood as the fatherland .

The term Prussian Classic applies to the entirety of the cultural phenomena in Prussia for the period of classicism . The development of the Prussian Classic was closely related to the political expansion of the power state of Prussia. This generated the means but also the increasing need and demand for an appropriate cultural form of expression of the opportunities gained and the increased status. According to the influential program of the art historian Arthur Moeller "The Prussian Style (1916)", the Prussian Classic was for him the subsumed claim (of the ruling elites) to develop artistic forms of expression from the idea of ​​an "elegant Spartan way of life". From this, for example, the country castles and mansions of the Margraviate of Brandenburg, which are considered both “tasteful” but also “sparse” (or “noble cold” forms) in the art world emerged.

In terms of architectural history, the political as well as cultural claim of the Prussian Classic culminated in the imitation of a new Doric order similar to the ancient model. Like the Prussian state in its early civilization phase, the northern Greek Dorians were culturally inferior to the rest of the Greek world and relied on hard, warlike political means that enabled them to conquer ancient Greece. The assumed historical parallels between Dorians and the Old Prussian state, which, in short, according to contemporary (Prussian) explanatory models, "formed a great power with little more than barren soil, willpower and organizational talent", led to mirror-image recognition effects of contemporary actors in Prussian cultural areas. The exemplary effect of Dorian art symbolized in this way led to intensive artistic references and imitations in the artistic works in Prussia.

In 1785 the current of the Berlin School of Sculpture emerged in sculpture . The term Berlin Romanticism appears in literature for this phase . Important individual personalities in the cultural and social field in Prussia included Karl Friedrich Schinkel , Albert Dietrich Schadow , Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt , Johann Gottlieb Fichte , Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel , Friedrich Carl von Savigny , Heinrich von Kleist , Christian Friedrich Tieck , ETA Hoffmann ( Berlin Romanticism). The widely used name of Spree-Athens for Berlin describes the cultural spirit that prevailed in Prussia at that time.


Kaiser Wilhelm II at a military parade on February 9, 1894 in the Lustgarten in Potsdam.
Color lithograph by Carl Röchling (1855–1920);
Excerpt from the speech of the German Emperor Wilhelm II in Potsdam on November 23, 1891 during a swearing-in of recruits:

“Recruits! You have now sworn your allegiance to me before the consecrated servant of God and in the face of this altar. You are too young to understand the true meaning of what has just been said, but first make sure that you always obey the rules and teachings given. You have sworn your allegiance to me, which means - children of my guard - you are now my soldiers, you have surrendered yourselves to me with body and soul. There is only one enemy for you and that is My enemy. With the current socialist activities it can happen that I order you to shoot down your own relatives, brothers, even parents - which may God forbid - but even then you have to obey My orders without grumbling. "

Explanation: According to the constitution, the king had the supreme command of the army.

Characteristics and features

The development of the Prussian state was embedded in the development of European society. This means that every development that took place in Prussia always took up the outside currents at the same time or at least with a delay and adapted them to the specific Prussian needs . An autonomous self-development did not take place, but the state and society changed according to isomorphic points of view according to the specifications of the social pioneers from the Netherlands, France and England.

The beginning of the modern development of European states in the early modern period led first of all to the secularization of public power with the displacement of the Catholic Church from all secular spheres of power in the Renaissance . After this process was completed, the secular territorial princes, strengthened in this way, set about creating their own substructure, which reshaped the existing administrative structures, which were shaped by the estates . This process began in the 17th century, largely defined programmatically in the Leviathan, and was completed in Prussia around 1750. Up until this point in time, the Prussian state was a weak state . The poorly developed statehood applied equally to all states around the world at the time. Already at this time a concise form of a constitutional state was developing in Prussia , which was considered exemplary at the time (see Müller-Arnold case ). The state was primarily supported by its professionalised civil service . The Prussian state therefore had the features of a standardized civil servant state with a pronounced bureaucracy , which included a regulated filing , written form , incorruptibility and other features based on Max Weber's model . Since the officials had to legitimize their actions inadequately , the Prussian state was also considered an authority state for a long time .

After that, the work of new intellectual currents led to further bourgeois influence groups being pushed into the center of power and demanding a say. From this, after protracted domestic political struggles between the monarchical forces and reformers in the period from 1790 to 1850, the Prussian constitutional state emerged .

The state character was transformed during the period not only politically, but also by its steady tasks, expenditure and staff nursery institutionally . Initially, however, the state was little more than a private instrument used by the sovereign to secure his position of power internally and externally. In Prussia at times 90 percent of state funds were used only for the army. While more than 100,000 members were already doing their service as quasi-public employees in the army, around 1750 the administration consisted of fewer than 1,000 people. This disparity caused that the Prussian state time during and in retrospect as a military state or military monarchy was classified.

Later, the functions of this regulatory state expanded the more society developed. New standards and technologies required new fields of activity that were opened up by the state under the direction of the administration.

The state in the sense of a common welfare state or welfare state only began to develop in the last decades around 1900. Until then, ordoliberal ideas were predominant in the state sphere.

Starting from an accumulated monarchical conglomerate of territories (composite monarchy), the central state developed only gradually. The Prussian states of the 18th century all had their own traditional internal administrative structures that had emerged since the late Middle Ages and the formation of the estates. The local and regional (corporate) actors in these structures, such as the district organizations, district committees or district assemblies within their own regions , continued to exist until the beginning of the Prussian reforms. The immediate cities, the estates of the rural nobility with all the villages, farms and people on them and the offices of the king's domain estates together formed the local and supraregional administrative level under the developing state and its own provincial institutions. The frequent fragmentation of these organically grown structures and their traditional and ongoing efforts to preserve them by their members in exchange with the central state structures paralyzed the political process. Innovations and changes took place slowly and with great effort. Around 1800 this led to gradual fundamental change efforts, which were pushed from the top of the state.

The Prussian parts of the country were converted into a modern organization of provinces , administrative districts and counties in 1815 in the course of administrative reforms after the wars of freedom against Napoleon and the territorial gains in the course of the Congress of Vienna in 1815 .

The state of Prussia, like the states today, is divided into a state level, a state level (provinces) and a communal level with local and supra-regional tasks.

Form of government and head of state

The Prussian throne , a formally located center of the monarchy, was located in the White Hall of the Berlin City Palace

The Prussian monarchy was an absolute monarchy from 1701 to 1848 . The head of state was the Prussian king, who had his right to the office of king as the right of inheritance of the Hohenzollern dynasty from birth. The princely house formed the core of statehood before the modern institutional state across Europe ousted the monarchy from the center of the state in the bourgeois age . The most noticeable deviation of the monarchy from a modern state was the role played by the Prussian court in government. The king's cabinet located there , from which he ruled by means of ministerial lectures and written reports, held a special position due to its abundance of power, which stood between public and private space and is therefore still considered premodern from a constitutional perspective.

The actual process of ousting the monarchy from the state institutions began in Prussia with unsuccessful attempts to defend themselves against the excesses of the French Revolution , which began with the Pillnitz Declaration and which had its first negative climax for the monarchy in the battle of Jena and Auerstedt . The restoration of absolute royal power after 1815 was followed by Vormärz and the 1848 revolution , which now constitutionally anchored the barriers to royal power.

From 1848 to 1918 the state was a constitutional monarchy . Formally, the king remained the highest-ranking institution in the state. With Bismarck's government at the latest, state and political control lay with the government of the ministers and no longer with the king. In the 19th century the importance of the king decreased to the same extent as the size and scope of tasks of the bureaucratic state increased. The office developed a more representative meaning in the design, which amounts to a loss of meaning.

Symbols and guiding principles

An iron cross from 1813 - lapel, the obverse is smooth
Corona Prusia-mj2.jpg
Prussian royal crown made for Wilhelm II
2012-10-12 16-32-20-musee-histoire-belfort-boucle.jpg
Prussian belt lock from 1847

The Prussian song , Borussia and Heil dir in the wreath were folk or national anthems of Prussia. The flag of Prussia showed a black eagle on a white background, which could also be seen on the Prussian coat of arms . In a number of badges, the Iron Cross became a symbol of identity in relation to the Prussian Kingdom.

The monarchy was symbolized by the Prussian crown jewels .

The Prussian motto Suum cuique was the house motto of the order of 1701 by Frederick I founded Black Eagle . The slogan made clear the efforts of the Prussian kings to exercise justice and justice. The customary battle cry God with us was written on the soldiers' belt locks .

Since the Kingdom of Prussia was a monarchical state and not a people's state , the political ideas of people, freedom or material prosperity played no role in the self-image of the state.

Laws and Regulations

Prussian law collection 1907

Written government action ultimately led to the implementation of programs or actions in the creation of a document that defined the rules or instructions. Their publication and dissemination formed the basis for the successful implementation of the measures taken.

The Prussian laws and ordinances were published in the Prussian collection of laws and thus visualized. These were numbered consecutively from 1810. While the so-called cabinet ordinances are to be understood as an administrative order with a statute of law , ordinances had a general character.

The written documents had an arrangement character that were subdivided into individual articles and sections and contained individual provisions with some explanatory and descriptive character. The length of a law varied from a few pages to several dozen, depending on the subject. The written form of the document usually opened with a personal reference by the king in the case of the external state laws ( We announce the name of the king, by the grace of God , King of Prussia and hereby add content to know ). The conclusion of a legal document was the naming of the king's name, including the place and date.

The document names in the 19th century were subject to a change in the nomenclature and were dependent on the circle of destination (inwardly or to the people) and were mainly divided according to:

In the 19th century, privileges or the highest decrees that made regulations on a case-by-case basis were not referred to as law . In the 18th century the legal documents were named as rescripts , regulations , circulars , edicts , patents and declarations.

The number of laws increased until 1870 due to a general increase in government responsibilities. More and more aspects of society and living conditions had to be standardized and regulated. Thereafter, the formal structure of the orders changed into a stricter division of documents with legal character and norm sheets below the legal level, so that the number of laws decreased, but not the density of regulations as such.

  • From January 1, 1800 to December 31, 1809, 567 laws were enacted
  • 613 laws were enacted from January 1, 1810 to December 31, 1819
  • From January 1, 1820 to December 31, 1829, 661 laws were enacted
  • From January 1, 1830 to December 31, 1839, 842 laws were enacted
  • from January 1, 1840 to December 31, 1849, 1,124 laws were enacted
  • From January 1, 1850 to December 31, 1859, laws were passed in 1960
  • From January 1, 1860 to December 31, 1869, 2,404 laws were enacted
  • from January 1, 1870 to December 31, 1879, 1,103 laws were enacted
  • From January 1, 1880 to December 31, 1889, 696 laws were enacted
  • from January 1, 1890 to December 31, 1899, 795 laws were enacted

Struggle for the Constitution

The political disputes over the introduction of a constitution followed on from a political evolutionary process that picked up speed in the middle of the 18th century. The Frideridzian system of rule of enlightened absolutism , which was established at the time, claimed that as a monarch it was only "a first servant of the state," which initially separated the state from the institution of the state and then, in a second step, reduced itself in relation to one another with which the monarch could no longer give all-encompassing sovereignty over the state. Around 1740 this was still a significant social advance, until then the monarchical saying, L'état, c'est moi was still permissible in continental Europe. The saying of Louis XIV meant the self-exaltation of the king over the state, united in himself. As a result of this political systemic claim that existed in Europe between 1650 and 1750, the state was a legally dependent organization without legal personality, which functioned as a private box as the king's quasi-oversized private property. This first system transformation, which was carried out in Prussia in the 1740s, was to be recorded in a general set of laws and made binding.

In accordance with the distribution of forces in the Prussian political-administrative system, the reactionary forces outnumbered the progressive factions for a long time . The body of law has been drawn up since the 1780s and it has become a constitution . After the general land law was passed, it was already out of date. It merely codified the existing conditions, so it was only a representation of the status quo of the prevailing power relations without realizing a new systematic approach. Due to its outdated system construction, the body of law ultimately remained inadequate for a real constitution, only minor aspects of importance. This included that it, as the supreme body of law of the absolute monarchical state, gave it a comprehensive legal system that applied equally to all provinces. Involvement of the citizens in the political process, however, was not considered. In historiography, the long-standing body of law was seen as an important basic requirement for the reform approaches that followed.

With the rise of the bourgeois forces in the last decades of the 18th century and the simultaneous global developments (explanation of the Virginia Declaration of Rights in 1776 and the French Revolution of 1789), the work of enlightened writings of Rousseau and Montesquieu , the formation of a people's sovereignty on based on an anchored powers demanded won after 1800 the political debates in the Prussian state between the different currents to contour and intensity.

The monarchical power came under considerable pressure and tried to evade the pressure of the mainly bourgeois and idealistically thinking state reformers using tactical delays, delays, holding back and making loose promises. The kingship succeeded in this in the end. Several times, once after 1815 and also in 1848, the monarchs succeeded in restoring their political position in the political system and in maintaining themselves in the center of the state as the highest political authority.

This did not (yet) change the Prussian constitution, which was finally introduced on February 6, 1850 . At least with the catalog of fundamental rights in Articles 3 to 42, terms and goals of the liberal movement and the 1848 revolution found their way into the text. With the declared equality of all citizens before the law (Section 4), the legal institutions of the birth class were abolished. This declared the basic principle of modern civil society. Personal freedom of religious belief, science and the press, inviolability of home and property , freedom of association and assembly were also stipulated. General compulsory schooling and general conscription formed further pillars of the state.

The monarch remained ruler in his own right, while the people and representatives derived their rights from the constitutional charter. As a result, the monarch was inviolable and had no responsibility for the government. The king alone had the executive power. He was in command of the army, declared war and peace and concluded international treaties.

With the introduction of the constitution, the Prussian political system conformed to or followed international developments and standards. This development meant the end of an outdated and, from a constitutional perspective, “quasi- despoticruling regime and the succession by the constitutional state . Legitimation and succession were thus on a broader basis than before.

The level of development reached, however, only formed the first half of the road to real democratically legitimized popular sovereignty, as it was to become a reality for the first time with the Weimar Republic .

State budget

Government expenditure and government revenue, including reserves and debts in Reichstaler
headline 1688 1713 1740 1786 1796 1800 1820 1830 1848
revenue 1,553,795 3,400,000 7,400,000 27,000,000 30,000,000 35,000,000
expenditure 6,850,000
Treasury - - 8,700,000 60,000,000 - 4,000,000 18,000,000 19,000,000
National debt - - - - 30,000,000

At the beginning of the kingdom, the state revenues consisted mainly of the (private royal) dominal income. This included the income from the domain offices or property, the regular income from coins, post, customs duties, salt monopoly , and the batch tax (a kind of income tax for state employees). Around 1700 this income amounted to around 1.9 to 2.0 million RT. Of this, 700,000 Rt belonged to the king's private assets ( casket , see box bills of Frederick the Great ). The court and wages and salaries were paid for with the rest. The discrepancies in the use of state funds were particularly evident in the plague year of 1711, when only 100,000 RT were used for the battered province in East Prussia with many thousands of victims.

Since the time of the Great Elector, an indirect consumption tax was levied on consumer goods, the excise at the city entrances and exits. This was raised by the tax and war commissioners.

Through constant reform measures, the income from the domain goods rose from 1.8 million RT to 3.3 million RT between 1713 and 1740. The income from property taxes also increased during the period. This included the general hoof lap on land ownership introduced between 1716 and 1720 , which for the first time also included the landowning nobility. The introduction of a fee levy for the traditional Lehnskanon led to bitter disputes with the local nobility, but was enforced by the king. Farmers had to make contributions (property tax) to the state, which accounted for 40 percent of the net income. After that, of the remaining 60 percent, the claims of the landlords had to be served.

In 1740, government revenues were made up of the following sources of income: Domain goods 2.6 million RT, contributions 2.4 million RT, excise 1.4 million RT, post office shelf 0.5 million RT, salt shelf 0.2 million RT. Of this, six million RT were used for the maintenance of the army. 0.65 million RT were given to the state treasury. The establishment of a state treasure in the form of coin and silver goods stored in chests in the Berlin City Palace led to economically damaging deflationary tendencies , as these economically important resources were withdrawn from circulation and not tied up in new activities. The economic cycle was damaged by state hoarding. The farm received 740,000 RT for its expenses. Most of the courtly expenses related to labor costs, craftsmen's and manufacturing orders. In the period from 1713 to 1740 the following investment expenses arose:

  • 5 million RT for the acquisition of domain goods
  • 2.5 million RT for the fortress construction
  • 2 million RT for civil construction
  • 6 million RT for the rétablissement in East Prussia
  • 2 million RT for the acquisition of Swedish Pomerania up to the Peene
  • 12 million RT for soldier recruitment abroad

In 1785, a year before the death of Frederick II, the revenue for the state budget amounted to RT 27 million. The Prussian court cost 1.2 million RT that year, the Prussian army had a budget of 12.5 million RT, the diplomatic corps had 80,000 RT, pensions made up a budget of 130,000 RT, the other expenses amounted to five million RT . In 1797, of the total budget of RT 20.5 million, RT 14.6 million was used for the Prussian army, RT 4.3 million for court and civil administration and RT 1.5 million for debt repayment and interest payments.

In 1740, the year Frederick II took office, the state treasury had reached seven million RT. In 1786 the state reserves amounted to RT 60 to 70 million. The Prussian state had become politically independent through its financial self-sufficiency. In a few years later, under the aegis of Friedrich Wilhelm II, these reserves were completely used up and national debts were taken up, and Prussia was back on the road to debt management and subsidy dependency. Under the subsequent King Friedrich Wilhelm III. the debts were paid off again.

State tasks

Internal security

The transfer of state power to private groups was characteristic of the security order in rural areas until well into the second half of the 19th century. Around 1800, before the liberation of the peasants, the landed gentry had sovereignty over around 75 to 80 percent of the rural population living on their estates. In addition to the jurisdiction, this also included the performance of police duties. Given the high military presence in the cities, there was hardly any space for other security organizations.

At the beginning of the 18th century there were no purely executive officers with security policy tasks. The administration of the police was still in the hands of the councilors commissioned by the magistrates , who were assisted by city servants. There was also no special police department in the city administrations.

The first police officers with security tasks were hired in 1735, a total of eight police officers. In 1742 Berlin was divided into 18 police districts , which were headed by a part-time commissioner . Around the middle of the century, the non-military security institutions in Berlin consisted of these 18 commissioners, eight police officers and 40 night watchmen. This structure lasted until 1800. The rather subordinate importance of the non-military security institutions was also given in the other cities to which the Berlin police system was transferred. The military held the dominant position everywhere.

Even in the middle of the 19th century, the density of police in the large cities of Prussia was still low. In Berlin in 1848 there were only 204 police officers for every 400,000 inhabitants.

Urban and spatial planning and regulation

The painting shown can be found in many books and magazines. It shows the construction of a street in the suburb of Friedrichstadt in Berlin during the pile foundation phase . The urban area of ​​Berlin was considerably enlarged under Friedrich Wilhelm I. The southern Friedrichstadt, the most important new district of Berlin, received a closed development with two (full) storey type houses under continuous mansard roofs since 1735 . The expansion was supervised by Colonel Christian Reinhold von Derschau . Most of the buildings came into being only after Prussian officials or the king himself had exerted appropriate pressure on the (involuntary) private builders. Almost 1000 new houses were built in Friedrichstadt from 1721 to 1737 (all of Berlin in 1711: 4,100 houses, 1740: 5400 houses). The poor subsoil made complex pile foundations necessary. In order to enable the completion of the quarter in a cost-saving manner and in the shortest possible time, the deployment of soldiers was ordered.

Up until the 18th century, the idea of ​​the immutability of the forces of nature dominated Europe . The attitude was based on religious value judgments, according to which only the omnipotence of God can (or may) shape nature and the environment. In addition to this resignation to fate , the poorly differentiated and undeveloped state of society and the low level of technical development were the main reasons for the few national design programs for shaping nature and landscape. This changed in the 18th century with the increase in the importance of natural science and the entire scientific sector in general. With increasing intensity and scope, self-confident scholars and professionals began to reshape nature according to human requirements.

Larger urban construction projects began throughout Europe, initially based on systematic criteria from the Baroque era. Defense policy aspects were also a major driver of these central government expansion programs. At first, functional military buildings and facilities dominated state activities alongside the residential building programs .

Prussia lagged behind some of these spatial planning developments in the 18th century. This included, for example, the country surveying , which was carried out late, and the creation of suitable maps of the monarchy. The expansion of traffic routes and the associated infrastructure such as wayfinding systems were introduced in Prussia later than in other German states. Defense policy considerations of the monarch often formed the decisive veto that stopped and delayed ambitious projects. It was feared that a well-developed route and guidance system or exact maps in public use would open up the possibility of a military victory for a potential opponent.

This did not affect the renovations of the cities, which in the 18th century did not yet have the standard of growth and expansion that is common today, but were supposed to replace or transform the old with new ones of a similar magnitude. Reasons for this were, for example, cities destroyed by city ​​fires (two out of 100 cities burned down in Prussia every year), war destruction or the forces of nature. Urban and spatial planning mainly pursued the preservation and reconstruction of the cities.

Such activities were bundled in the superstructure department of the general management .

Since the 18th century, the state has been investing increasingly significant amounts of money in the construction of civil and military structures. Barracks were built since the middle of the 18th century , so between 1763 and 1767 two artillery and five infantry barracks with stables and stores , which were followed by others. In Berlin, 149 town houses were built between 1769 and 1777 at state expense. Between 1780 and 1785 a total of 1.2 million RT were spent from royal funds for the construction of barracks, churches, the royal library , 91 large residential buildings, the palace of Prince Heinrich and numerous factories. In and around Potsdam the king invested a total of 3.5 million RT between 1740 and 1786 for the construction of 720 residential and colonist houses . In addition, there were expenses of 216,000 RT for factories, 450,000 RT for military buildings and 1.1 million RT for the Great Military Orphanage , churches and city gates. Friedrich II invested a total of 10.5 million RT in the expansion of Potsdam. For the rest of the Kurmark , 9.2 million RT were used in the period from 1740 to 1786 for the construction of residential and factory buildings and the enhancement of the national culture .

Monetary Policy and Coin Shelf

A Reichs Thaler Friedrich II 1777

The Prussian Reichstaler was the currency of Prussia until 1857.

Formally, the imperial coinage system created in the coin dictates of 1551, 1559 and 1566 also existed in the 17th century for the Holy Roman Empire . However, the norms were not observed, so that the Brandenburg elector together with the Saxon elector issued their own coinage convention. The Zinna Coin Convention has been in force for Brandenburg-Prussia since 1667 . The Prussian-Austrian dualism led to upheavals in monetary policy, which divided the area of ​​the Holy Roman Empire into two currency areas . In 1750 Friedrich II carried out a coin reform according to the plan of his mint director Johann Philipp Graumann . The 14 thaler foot was introduced in Prussia through the Graumann coin reform . In addition, Prussia issued the somewhat lighter Reichstaler and gold coins, the Friedrich d'or . The reform made Prussia independent of other countries in terms of monetary policy. 1821 As part of a coin reform, the Prussian thaler was divided into 30 silver groschen of 12 pfennigs each.

Until then, the taler was divided into 24 groschen, each worth 12 pfennigs. In addition, there were further subdivisions in the eastern provinces. Prussia's currency was unified in 1821, which meant that these subdivisions were no longer applicable. In 1857 the Prussian thaler was replaced by the club thaler .

Royal Mail

Prussian post office sign

Until the establishment of a dense railroad network , the Royal Prussian Post formed the first publicly operated transport network that connected all provinces and parts of Prussia and thus had a central integration function for the growing together of the Prussian state.

In 1786 there were 760 post offices in Prussia, four higher post offices in Berlin, Breslau, Königsberg and Stolzenberg , 246 post offices and 510 post office attendant offices, which were assigned to the nearest post office as non-independent post offices. The highest office was the General Post Office, which was raised to an independent authority in 1741 . The postmaster general held the rank of minister of state and at the same time headed the factory, trade and salt departments of the general directorate . It was later incorporated into the newly created Ministry of the Interior.

In 1850, the Prussian Post employed a total of 14,356 people in 1,723 post offices. The postal administration maintained 6,534 mail wagons and 12,551 horses. Over 2.1 million travelers were carried.

Federal structure

Administrative division on January 1, 1900

The "States of the King of Prussia", for the entirety of which the name "Prussia" became naturalized around the middle of the 18th century, consisted of the parts of Kingdom of Prussia , Margraviate Brandenburg , Duchy of Pomerania , Geldern , Kleve and Moers at the beginning of the 18th century , Tecklenburg , Lingen , Minden , Mark , Ravensberg , Lippstadt , Duchy of Magdeburg , Halberstadt , the sovereign Principality of Neuchâtel and the sovereign county of Valangin . In 1713 the parts of the country were divided into the following provinces : Central, Ucker and Altmark, Neumark-Pommern-Kassuben, Prussia, Geldern-Kleve, Minden-Mark-Ravensberg, Magdeburg-Halberstadt, Neuchâtel (Land) and Valangin (Land). In 1740 the provincial authorities were transferred to war and domain chambers or were reorganized. Its shape also changed several times in the course of the following decades, when other areas, including Silesia as sovereign property, came to Prussia.

After the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the state of Prussia was divided into ten provinces with the ordinance of 30 April 1815 to improve the establishment of the provincial authorities , which, with the exception of East Prussia, West Prussia and Posen, were administrative units of Prussia and belonged to the territory of the German Confederation . After the merger of the two Rhenish provinces in 1822, there were nine provinces (the capital in brackets ):

  1. Brandenburg Province ( Potsdam )
  2. East Prussia Province ( Königsberg )
  3. West Prussia Province ( Danzig )
  4. Province of Pomerania ( Stettin )
  5. Province of Silesia ( Wroclaw )
  6. Poznan Province ( Poznan )
  7. Rhine Province ( Koblenz ), originated from 1822
    1. Jülich-Kleve-Berg Province ( Cologne )
    2. Province of the Grand Duchy of Lower Rhine (Koblenz)
  8. Province of Westphalia ( Münster )
  9. Province of Saxony ( Magdeburg )

From 1829–1878, East and West Prussia were united to form the Province of Prussia (capital Königsberg).

After the German War of 1866, Prussia annexed the Kingdom of Hanover , the Electorate of Hesse , the Duchy of Nassau , the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, and the Free City of Frankfurt . Three provinces were formed from these areas:

  1. Province of Hanover ( Hanover )
  2. Hesse-Nassau Province ( Kassel )
  3. Province of Schleswig-Holstein ( Kiel , 1879–1917 Schleswig )

Prussia thus comprised twelve provinces. This classification remained in place until the Treaty of Versailles came into force in 1920.

Supreme State Authorities and Provincial Administration

The Prussian kings ruled "in the cabinet ", which in the time of Frederick II consisted of two or three secret cabinet councilors and several cabinet secretaries , which meant that the king communicated primarily in writing with his ministers. His instructions, the famous cabinet rules , were equivalent to laws . The cabinet, justice and state ministers as well as high-ranking diplomats also belonged to the originally central Secret Council , which, however, increasingly lost its importance. The actual central administration was taken over in the late 18th century by the Justice and Cabinet Ministries as well as the General Directorate . The cabinet ministry, which advised the king on foreign policy, consisted of one or two ministers and five to six secret legation councils . From 1723 the General Directory was responsible for the financial, internal and military administration of Prussia. In 1772 there were a total of 12 so-called war and domain chambers in the provinces , which were responsible for financial, police and military administration. They were presided over by a noble chamber president, assisted by one or two directors. They had several chief foresters , a building director and, depending on the size and importance of the province, between five and 20 councils of war and also tax councils , who were supervised locally in police, trade, commercial and excise matters . In addition there were the aristocratic district administrators that the counties presided over the provinces; these were royal followers and at the same time, as elected representatives of the district assemblies , representatives of the estates . There was also an upper arithmetic chamber, which was a kind of auditing chamber with 25 councilors and 13 secretaries . The Royal Main Bank , the Maritime Trading Society and the General Salt Administration , each headed by a separate finance minister, were in close contact with the General Directorate . Each department of the General Directory was headed by a minister. By 1806, the area of ​​responsibility of this "super ministry" expanded through the establishment of new departments . In 1806 there were seven heads of department, the number of councils was 52, the number of secretaries was 73. In addition to the general directorate, there was the Silesian Finance Department with its seat in Wroclaw . This authority had its own responsibility for the two war and domain chambers in Breslau and Glogau . The principalities of Silesia thus assumed a special position in Prussia in the 18th century . The Ministry of Justice was led by four ministers and seven councils. It was also responsible for religious matters. He was subordinate to the "governments" as well as court and higher courts , which represented the jurisprudence; these also administered sovereignty, border, fiefdom, church and school matters.

Court Chancellery
'' Jurisdiction and Administration ''
1516 Supreme
council chamber
Kurmärkisches Konsistorium
Privy Council
Cult Judiciary Foreign Finances
Collegium Medicum
Secret Court Chamber
General Finance Directorate
(domains, regalia)
General War Commissariat (taxes)
1714 General Computing
Obercollegium Medicum
Cabinet Ministry
General Directory
Ministry of Justice
senior consistory
judicial reform of the courts
Chamber of Accounts
Obercollegium Medicum et Sanitatis
Courts 1st, 2nd and 3rd instance
Ministry of Justice
Ministry of State
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of War
Ministry of the Interior
Ministry of Finance
Ministry of Spiritual,
Educational and Medical Affairs
Ministry of the Treasury
Provincial Consistory
Chamber of Accounts

constitutional state

The organization of the administrative authorities, which has been nationally oriented since Friedrich Wilhelm I, led to the establishment of a centralized judicial structure in the area of ​​the constitution of the judiciary . This was to unite the top courts responsible for the various parts of the country, which were previously unconnected. The so-called Great Frederick College was established as the highest central court in 1748 , in which the Chamber Court and the Higher Appeal Courts located in Berlin were amalgamated . An organic judicial organization with a uniform top responsible for all Prussian states was not realized until 1782, when the upper tribunal connected to the chamber court became independent and from then on became the highest authority for the entire monarchy as the secret higher tribunal . From then on, the Brandenburg Chamber of Commerce, the East Prussian Tribunal , the Silesian Higher Official Governments and in the other parts of the country the so-called “Governments” acted as intermediate bodies in the provinces .

The main development of the Prussian legal system in the 18th century was developed and directed by Samuel von Cocceji and Johann Heinrich von Carmer .


State Relations

Entry of the Electors into Frankfurt am Main in 1612. According to the caption ("..., Brandenburg bad"), Brandenburg (and thus also Prussia) was regarded in the imperial public /
imperial opinion as the "worst" of the electorate in the imperial structure and the Hohenzollern as "poor upstart"

With its power politics, Prussia expanded its position in the international structure of the European balance of power . It was considered a rising military power and was therefore courted as an auxiliary power by the major European powers until 1740. Without natural borders, Prussia had no security zone, which led to an increasing lack of concern in the choice of its means of foreign policy and earned it the accusation of unreliability.

No. 8 & No. 9 Carlton House Terrace , The Mall (formerly Prussian Legation and German Embassy until 1955), see also: List of Prussian Ambassadors in the United Kingdom

Prussia's foreign policy was therefore changeable and always guided by its own requirements; this sometimes resulted in a "rocking policy". Alliances were concluded with a short term and with the achievement of individual goals; loyalty to international treaties was "lax". This created unpredictability and insecurity for his neighbors.

Prussia maintained direct and close relationships with the Russian Empire , with which it had concluded various alliance agreements in the 18th and 19th centuries . With Sweden , which, as a declining hegemon in the struggle for the Dominium maris Baltici , maintained aggressive tendencies towards its southern neighbors for a long time, Prussia had a confrontational, often warlike relationship. Between 1630 and 1763 it waged a total of five wars against Sweden. The Kingdom of Denmark , on the other hand, was a natural ally for Prussia and an important reference and orientation power. Similarly positive relations with the designed Netherlands , whose importance for the early Prussian state and its elites, especially in cultural adaptation, reference and referentiality was. A positive mutual exchange prevailed about the world power Great Britain . Prussia was repeatedly and persistently in conflict with the leading continental power of France . From 1674 to 1807 there were a total of six armed conflicts with France. The former great power Poland , which stagnated in the 18th century, fell victim to the Prussian-Russian-Austrian partition policy.

The Prussian policy towards the Holy Roman Empire led to a considerable weakening of the cohesion of the empire in the 18th century. On the one hand, the invasion of Silesia by Prussian troops at the end of 1740 was a blatant violation of the legal order of the empire. In addition, Prussia was anxious to expand its autonomy as a kingdom vis-à-vis the empire. In doing so, it positioned itself above all against the primary imperial power Austria , which advocated the preservation of the empire. The German dualism , which lasted until 1866, developed from this .

There was a diverse and close exchange with the other German states. In the course of the 18th century, Prussia assumed the leading role as the first Protestant imperial estate before Saxony. From 1763 onwards, with the formation of the Prince's League under his leadership , Prussia had great influence on German domestic politics.

Diplomatic Corps

From 1700 onwards, permanent embassies emerged all over Europe , replacing the temporary mission embassies that had been common in European diplomacy until then . In the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, all imperial princes had also formally received the right of alliance and thus the right to an independent foreign policy.

As a result, Prussia also built up a Europe-wide embassy system to the European rulers . When the authority established as the “Department of Foreign Affairs” in 1728 was transferred to the North German Confederation in 1867, initially as the Foreign Office and then from 1871 to the German Empire, the diplomatic corps of the former Prussian authority consisted of a total of 60 budget units. The authority maintained a total of four embassies in London, Paris, Petersburg and Vienna, 16 embassies , eight embassies within the Reich, eight ministerial residencies , seven consulates general with diplomatic status, 33 professional consulates and four professional vice consulates.

Historical geography

Territorial changes in Prussia between 1415 and 1803
The Mark Brandenburg 1415
Acquisitions from 1415 to 1618
Acquisitions from 1618 to 1648
Acquisitions from 1648 to 1740
Acquisitions from 1740 to 1786
Acquisitions from 1786 to 1803


The north German lowlands are part of the Central European lowlands (green area signature), which stretches from Belgium in the west to Poland in the east

The individual parts of Prussia were very different in terms of landscape, society and structure. Between the city of Memel in the east and the westernmost Prussian city of Geldern were 1080 kilometers as the crow flies. Between Memel in the north and the Silesian Pless in the south, the distance as the crow flies was 655 kilometers. The most important neighboring states in the east were Poland-Lithuania and, from 1720, the Russian Empire . Until 1815 Prussia had a land border with Sweden , from 1866 it was neighboring with Denmark . For Empire of Austria there was a direct land link through Silesia. In the west, Prussia had a direct border with the Netherlands , Belgium , Luxembourg and France . The western Prussian provinces were more commercial and urban, while the eastern provinces were agricultural with less privileged, peasant populations. Urban centers were rare in the structurally weak eastern region. The core economic regions were the Berlin area, Silesia as a trade-centered region and, since 1850, the Rhine and Ruhr areas, which have been growing rapidly. There were important raw material stores in the Ruhr area and in the Silesian mining district .

Geographically, the major part of the national territory is to be assigned to the North German Plain . The Baltic Sea formed an important and long maritime northern border for the Prussian state. The participation in the Baltic Sea trade but also in the continental east-west trade (including via the Via Regia , Leipziger Messe , Messe Frankfurt an der Oder ) was of fundamental economic interest for the Prussian state.

On the one hand, the territory was divided into several separate areas and was characterized by a strong dynamic of change over time. Many later territories of Prussia changed their citizenship in the course of war defeats by foreign powers or the transfer of inheritance claims, purchase or in diplomatic exchange for other territories in the possession of Prussia.

Four essential geographical blocks with similar socio-cultural connections formed the old Prussian monarchy until 1806. This was first the core area of ​​Prussia with the central provinces around the Mark Brandenburg, then the eastern provinces with their ideal center in Königsberg, the northwest with various smaller parts of the country came from the beginning in the 17th century in the possession of the Hohenzollern dynasty. The southern provinces formed a brief exception in the Prussian state territory. These territories were ceded back in 1805 in exchange for Kurhannover , which was also ceded within a year because of the war defeat against France.

Provinces of the old Prussian state until 1806 with indication of statistical key figures
Provincial Group number province Seizure Exit km² EW EW / km² Cities Cities> 5,000 inhabitants Cities 2,000-5,000 inhabitants Cities <2,000 inhabitants
east 1.0 176,596 4,104,000 23.24 525 18th 073 434

Duchy of Prussia in the 17th century

1.1 (Old) East Prussia 1618 1945 039,424 0.990,000 25.11 067 06th 025th 036
1.2 New East Prussia 1795 1807 051,240 0.877,000 17.12 129 00 008th 121
1.3 West Prussia 1772/76 1920/45 032,256 0.817,000 25.33 094 06th 018th 070
1.4 South Prussia 1793 z. T. 1807 053,676 1,420,000 26.46 235 06th 022nd 207
Central 2.0 109,310 4,203,400 38.45 380 33 104 243

Hzm Silesia 1791.jpg

2.1 Duchy of Silesia 1741 1945 040,656 2,047,000 50.35 147 11 043 093

Mark Brandenburg 1618.jpg

2.2 Mark Brandenburg 1415 z. T. 1945 035,728 1,177,000 32.94 123 13 034 076

Duchy of Pomerania in the 18th century.jpg

2.3 Duchy of Pomerania 1648, 1721 z. T. 1945 024,761 0.518,000 20.92 056 03 014th 039

Duchy of Magdeburg over LSA 2007.png

2.4 Duchy of Magdeburg with the county of Mansfeld 1648, 1680 (partly 1807-1813) 006.093 0.320,000 52.52 036 03 005 028
2.5 County of Hohnstein , Principality of Halberstadt , Quedlinburg 1648 1807-1813 002,072 0.141,400 68.24 018th 03 008th 007th
2.6 Principality of Erfurt and Eichsfeld 1802 1806 002,716 0.158,000 58.17 009 03 003 003
Northwest 3.0 017,645 0.873,000 49.48 104 08th 021 075
3.1 County Kleve and County Mark 1612 1801 / 07-1815 004,004 0.202,000 50.45 036 03 010 023
3.2 Principality of Minden and County of Ravensberg 1648 1807-1815 001,951 0.166,000 85.08 014th 01 002 011
3.3 County of Lingen and County of Tecklenburg 1702 1807-1815 000.728 0.046,000 63.19 008th 00 000 008th
3.4 Principality of Münster 1802 1807-1815 002,744 0.127,000 46.28 009 01 001 007th
3.5 Principality of Paderborn 1802 1807-1815 002,800 0.098,500 35.18 023 00 002 021
3.6 Principality of Hildesheim 1802 1807-1866 002,240 0.114,000 50.89 009 02 003 004th
3.7 Principality of East Frisia 1744 1807-1866 003,178 0.119,500 37.60 005 01 003 001
south 4th0 007,658 0.540,600 70.59 048 08th 008th 032
4.1 Principality of Ansbach 1791 1806 003,514 0.270,000 76.84 025th 05 003 017th
4.2 Principality of Bayreuth 1791 1807 003,220 0.223,000 69.25 018th 03 003 012th
4.3 Principality of Neufchatel 1707 1806 000.924 0.047,600 51.52 005 00 002 003
Prussian monarchy 311.209 9,721,000 31.24 10570 67 206 784

National territory

The development of the state territory of Prussia between 1701 and 1939 shows a strongly increasing tendency: from 1608, shortly before the first territorial acquisitions of the Hohenzollerns outside Brandenburg to the collapse of the old Prussian state almost 200 years later, the feudal state expanded by almost ten times its original size. Based on the population development, the growth factor in this period was 1: 23.6.

The Hohenzollern rulers pursued a consistent (dynastic) expansion policy since the 16th century. At first the dynasty was interested in marriage and inheritance claims. The inheritance policy succeeded with the attack of the Duchy of Prussia , the later Duchy of Magdeburg and some southern German principalities. In the west the Hohenzollern maintained claims to some smaller areas. In the course of the Clevian Succession dispute, these succeeded in asserting themselves on a Europe-wide conflict level. In Pomerania, too, the Hohenzollerns maintained inheritance claims for a long time, until they were granted to Western Pomerania in 1648.

year population surface
1608 0.41 million 35,728 km²
1640 k. A. 80,826 km²
1686 <1.5 million 109,830 km²
1713 1.6 million 111,574 km²
1740 2.4 million 117,928 km²
1786 5.4 million 190,223 km²
1797 8.7 million 307,785 km²
1804 9.7 million 316,232 km²
1807 4.94 million 158,000 km²
1816 10.3 million 280,000 km²
1840 15 million 280,000 km²
1861 18.5 million 280,000 km²
1871 24.6 million 348,780 km²
1880 27 million 348,780 km²
1910 40.16 million 348,780 km²

In 1715 Swedish Pomerania was added to the Prussian state up to the Peene . East Frisia came to the Prussian states by inheritance . In 1742 the principalities of Silesia were conquered and held as a province for Prussia. In 1776 the province of West Prussia was added to the Prussian state. From 1790 to 1806, the territorial reorganization of the collapsing Holy Roman Empire and the French Empire, which expanded at the same time, added large areas in northwest Germany and Franconia to the Kingdom of Prussia. The completed division of Poland also brought great territorial gains for Prussia. The character of the state of Prussia was completely changed in just a few years. The New Prussian territories in western Germany and in the old Polish settlement area had no Prussian (German) traditions, had their own or different spatial structures and were lost again through the provisions of the Peace of Tilsit in 1807. However, Prussia regained its approximate former size in the course of the Congress of Vienna in 1815. The previously isolated Prussian provinces on the Rhine have now been combined into a single Rhenish-Westphalian territorial complex. It was a British idea and not a Prussian one, the actors of which would have preferred to keep all of Saxony. Instead, according to British will, Prussia was to take over the role of “ guardian on the Rhine ” vis-à-vis France as a replacement for the resigned Habsburg . This new territorial unit changed the Prussian state considerably after 1815. The central provinces of Prussia, which had dominated until then, lost some of their importance in favor of the Rhenish provinces by 1918. The foreign policy endeavors of the Prussian government after 1815 secretly aimed to unite the two large areas in the west and in "Old Prussia", geographically separated by a 40-kilometer gap. The principalities in between, such as the Kingdom of Hanover , thus became, as was the case with the reduction of the Kingdom of Saxony , a territorial factor of Prussia's foreign policy ambitions. Since only a part of the formerly Polish acquisitions from the third partition of Poland were again assigned to Prussia, the state of Prussia as a whole was again given a more all-German position.


The increase in population in the 17th and 18th centuries was based on territorial gains and an intensively pursued policy of peuplication . The targeted recruitment and settlement of foreign colonists , often exiles and religious refugees from Habsburg countries , in the rather poorly populated eastern provinces of East Prussia, West Prussia, Neumark and Western Pomerania promoted the expansion of the country , which also included the cultivation and reclamation of swamp areas. In the deserted areas along the regulated rivers Warthe and Oder, hundreds of colonist villages emerged in the 18th century. The weavers' settlements Nowawes and Zinna formed type-forming local foundations . Further population growth took place through area expansions as a result of the wars of unification and was also based on a high natural population growth in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Around 1800, almost 43 percent of the population were considered Slavs . These included mainly Poles , Sorbs , Lithuanians , Kashubians , Kurds and Latvians . Another minority were the French Huguenots who immigrated in the 17th century, who, including their descendants, comprised a total of 65,000 people. A total of 250,000 Jews were classified and recorded as an "ethnic group" by the surveys at that time.

50.6 percent of the residents were Lutheran , 44.1 percent Catholic , the rest were Reformed , Mennonites , Greek Orthodox and Hussites .

In 1804 the population consisted of the following social classes :

  • 328,000 people of aristocracy, in the predominantly Polish provinces of New East Prussia and South Prussia, the Polish minor nobility, Szlachta , was represented with 34,000 out of a total of 54,000 people.
  • 2.7 million people were included in the citizenry.
  • 6.828 million people were rural residents and some of them were unfree farmers.
  • The clergy were represented by 40,000 people.


The largest old Prussian cities (excluding Warsaw)
Ranking 1804 Ranking 1910 city Inhabitants 1804 Inhabitants 1850 Inhabitants 1875 Inhabitants 1910
1 1 Berlin 178,308 419,000 966.859 2,071,257
2 3 Wroclaw 60,950 114,000 239.050 512.105
3 10 Koenigsberg 60,690 76,000 122,636 245.994
4th 16 Danzig 46.213 - 97.931 170,337
5 9 Magdeburg 37,451 72,000 87,925 279,629
6th - Potsdam 26,980 - 45.003 62,243
7th 11 Szczecin 22,335 49,000 80,972 236.113
8th 15th Halle (Saale) 21,350 - 60.503 180.843
9 - Elblag 18.805 - 33,520 55,000
10 17th Poses 15,253 45,000 60,998 156.691
11 - Frankfurt Oder 17,501 29,969 47,180 68,277
12th - Halberstadt 13,816 20,395 - 46,481
13 - Brandenburg on the Havel 12,499 21,000 27,776 68,277
14th - Quedlinburg 10,023 13,886 18,437 27,233
15th - Emden 10,416 to Hanover 13,400 24,500
6th Charlottenburg - - 25,847 305.978
The largest New Prussian cities belonging to the Prussian state territory from 1815/1866 (mA von Duisburg)
among the
New Prussian
Ranking in
total Prussia in 1910
city Inhabitants 1850 Inhabitants 1875 Inhabitants 1910
1 2 Cologne 97,000 135,371 516,527
2 4th Frankfurt am Main - 103.136 414,576
3 5 Dusseldorf 27,000 80,695 358.728
4th 7th Hanover - 106,677 302.375
5 8th meal - 54,790 294,653
6th 12th Duisburg - 37,380 229,438
7th 13 Dortmund - 57,742 214.226
8th 14th Kiel - 37,246 211,627

The city density decreased from west to east. The city of Berlin experienced exceptionally strong growth from 1700 to 1918 and at the end of the monarchy it had the largest urban region. Together with Berlin, the cities of Brandenburg an der Havel (court and early capital), Potsdam (residence) and Frankfurt an der Oder (fair, university) formed the traditional core of the expanding Prussian state. The cities of the Prussian Rhine provinces only became more important in the 19th century. The cities in today's Saxony-Anhalt, Magdeburg, Halle, Quedlinburg and Halberstadt, were strategically important due to their central location and therefore long disputed between Saxony and Brandenburg. The eastern metropolises of Danzig and Königsberg formed dominant monocentres in their respective provinces.

The composition of the list from 1804 of the Prussian cities with the largest population differs considerably from that for 1910. The 19th century was a century of urbanization and rural exodus in Europe, so that after the rather stagnant course of the early modern period, the cities increased their inhabitants. Since a large migration movement from the eastern provinces of Prussia to the economically booming Rhine provinces began at the same time, the cities in the Rhine and Ruhr areas grew faster than those in the central and eastern state areas between 1850 and 1910 .


The rivers Havel , Spree , Elbe , Oder and later the Rhine were significant trade routes . The Spree, Havel, Oder and Elbe were linked by the construction of artificial waterways from the 17th century and formed a common network of river routes through which a considerable proportion of Prussian grain exports but also other goods (e.g. limestone from Rüdersdorf to Berlin) the ports on the Baltic and North Sea were transported.

Mountain range

Prussia consisted to a large extent of plains or had a flat undulating character, only in the southern state there were prominent elevations. Silesia, which has belonged to Prussia since 1741, was its most mountainous province with the Giant Mountains as part of the Sudetes . In addition, the Harz Mountains were the next most important mountain range, to which Prussia had at least partial access since the end of the 18th century and then completely included them in its state territory after the territorial acquisitions of 1866.

With the enlargement of the Prussian territory since 1815 by large parts of the German Rhineland, this also included the small-scale low mountain ranges of the Hunsrück , Westerwald and Eifel . The Westphalian low mountain range, the Rothaargebirge and the Weser Uplands also belonged to the Kingdom of Prussia from then on.

The highest Prussian mountain was the Schneekoppe at 1,603 meters, followed by the Reifträger at 1,362 meters, the Brocken at 1,141 meters and the Ochsenberg at 1,033 meters.

Vegetation, soils and landscapes

In the 18th and 19th centuries, large parts of the national territory were dominated by swamps , heaths and dunes . Human interventions in the 20th century largely adapted these natural landscapes to the needs of civilization in favor of settlement and agricultural areas and significantly pushed back their original forms,.

The quality of the soils varied considerably depending on the region. There were very nutritious and productive soils like in the Magdeburg Börde , in South Prussia or western Silesia. Large parts of the central provinces or East Prussia, on the other hand, had nutrient-poor sandy soils .

With newly built dykes, river straightening and canal construction, thousands of square kilometers of marshland were permanently drained . The development of agricultural land was an important part of government policy. 21.5 percent of the country's area was forested in 1804, with the Johannisburger Heide and Rominter Heide in East Prussia forming the largest forest area . In comparison, the province of Westphalia was rather poor in forests.

Lakes, bays and islands

The stretches of coast that belonged to Prussia at different times showed a strong structure overall. The Szczecin Lagoon , the Fresh Lagoon and the Curonian Lagoon with its Curonian Spit formed striking bays . The most important old Prussian islands were Usedom and Swinemünde , since 1815 also Rügen , after 1866 the island chains of Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein were added.

The largest chain of lakes in Prussia was the Masurian Lake District in East Prussia, including the Spirdingsee .


While in the western provinces, Westphalia and Rhineland, a maritime transitional climate prevails, the eastern areas are characterized by more continental ones . For the east, this meant colder winters with warmer summers, and for the western regions, year-round lower temperature fluctuations with a slightly longer vegetation period .

During the period of the kingdom's existence, the global warming caused by industrialization and man-made was not yet noticeable. In the early days of the kingdom, the Little Ice Age was at its height, the winters usually brought severe and prolonged periods of frost everywhere with them.


The history of the Prussian monarchy is extremely extensive and thematically multifaceted. Their content orientation is subject to the influences of the times and changing value judgments. The main research areas are: transnational entanglements and transfer processes, the structural situation between East and West, actors in internal state-building, regional actors, the military system, consequences of state economic policy, the power of elite groups, dealing with minorities , the importance of culture, science, education and churches, democratization and nation-building .

It was not until the 19th century that individual specialist historical research fields on Prussian history emerged from the main field of the history of events . This included the agricultural history ( Georg Friedrich Knapp ), the history of the state structure and the administrative history (e.g. Siegfried Isaacsohn ).

Until 1945, German historiography in the 19th and early 20th centuries was predominantly “borussophile”. The two most important representatives of this period were Otto Hintze and Johann Gustav Droysen . Subsequently, Heinrich von Sybel and Leopold von Ranke were also significant . Many of the historians of the time were senior teachers and lawyers, and consequently concise types of the historically interested Prussian educated middle class. Acta Borussica , founded by Gustav von Schmoller , appeared as the most comprehensive work of this period .

German nationalism from 1871 to 1945 shaped the image of an all-German mission by Prussia, to which the House of Hohenzollern is said to have committed itself from the start. According to Wolfgang Neugebauer, the term national teleological historiography applies to this . In addition, there was a strong historiography focused on people, which shortened the events in the period from 1640 to 1786 to the work of the monarchs, according to the recurring pattern:

  • Frederick I was a spendthrift on the throne.
  • The Great Elector and the Soldier King laid the foundations of the Prussian state.
  • Friedrich II made a great power out of Prussia.
  • After that, waste, fornication and idleness returned.
  • The defeat of 1806 led to the growth of new forces and renewal.
  • With an awakened national spirit and extreme exertion, Prussia freed itself and the German fatherland from the French occupiers.

After the end of the Third Reich , Prussia was assumed to have an intellectual closeness to fascism due to its strong militarization and pronounced sense of authority , which is said to have provided the breeding ground for the totalitarian Nazi dictatorship ( continuity thesis : From Friedrich II. Via Bismarck to Hitler). Gordon A. Craig is a major writer on this movement.

Recent topics are the construction and deconstruction of Prussia since 1990 historical myths and culture of remembrance , the social history of military history , the micro-historical reconstruction of worlds, the gender history and the international integration and transnational exchanges in the Prussian policy.

The GDR historiography produced a number of well-known specialist authors, including Erika Hertzfeld and Ingrid Mittenzwei . Thematically the class-centered history was in the foreground, in that the relationship between the feudal class, the bourgeoisie and the working class was analyzed again and again according to a fixed process scheme and with a fixed result: In the end, the working class won and the feudal nobility was constantly in a desperate defensive battle. In addition, in the 19th century , the bourgeois elite allegedly entered into an alliance with the aristocratic Junkers that opposed everything that was progressive. Such an alliance was never questioned and its existence could not be proven, it was only anchored as a given fact in the historical world system of the GDR historians.

The return of the most important archival material from the collections of the former GDR brought an additional boost to Prussian research. The Handbook of Prussian History and Modern Prussian History 1648–1947 are considered to be standard historiographical works . The Historical Commission of Berlin , which since its founding in 1958 had dealt with Prussian history in monographs, collections of essays, editions and international specialist conferences, lost its research assignment due to a resolution by the Berlin Senate in 1996, which meant that the institute had to close, but continues to exist as a scholars' association. The most frequently cited current authors on Prussian history are Wolfgang Neugebauer , Otto Büsch and Christopher Clark . You were or are members of the Prussian Historical Commission , which is a central interface for research on Prussian history. The Secret State Archive of Prussian Cultural Heritage keeps the most important primary sources, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation administers the cultural and real estate of the Prussian monarchy.

Culture of remembrance

10 euro commemorative coin of the Federal Republic of Germany, Friedrich II., Motif side
Guard of honor at Friedrich II's grave on the occasion of his 300th birthday
The decorated grave of Friedrich II. 2011, part of a popular and reverberating Friedrichk cult

The Prussian Museum in Minden , the Prussian Museum in Wesel and the Brandenburg-Prussian Museum pursue museum-like memories . War memorials or monarchical monuments were erected in many places in the German Empire and are still maintained today. Since the Prussian exhibition Prussia - Attempt at a Balance Sheet in 1981, dealing with the subject of Prussia has relaxed overall, so that one also speaks of a Prussian renaissance .

Lange Kerls on the occasion of the Queen's visit to
Cecilienhof Palace in 2004

The state-supported remembrance of Prussia is largely driven by the person of Frederick II. In reunified Germany, the return of his bones from Hohenzollern Castle to Potsdam gained importance in 1991 when the state of Brandenburg buried Frederick II at Sanssouci Palace and his father in the Potsdam mausoleum Friedenskirche made possible. A service and a memorial service were organized on the occasion. A unit of the Bundeswehr escorted the coffin and the then Chancellor Kohl took part in the celebration as a private person.

In terms of media , the kingdom is also present in public events such as the Prussian year 2001 or the celebrations for the 300th birthday of Frederick II. Regular special editions of the magazines Geo , Der Spiegel and Stern are aimed at a large readership. TV series or multi-part TV films such as Saxony's Glory and Prussia's Gloria and Heir to the Throne (1980) also dealt with the topic. The military component of Prussia is echoed today in re-enactment associations : on certain occasions, amateur actors in contemporary uniforms re-enact war events, such as the Potsdam Langen Kerls .

See also


  • Otto Büsch, Wolfgang Neugebauer : Modern Prussian History: 1648-1947. 3 volumes, De Gruyter Verlag, Berlin 1981, ISBN 3-11-008324-8 .
  • Handbook of Prussian History, Walter de Gruyter Verlag, Berlin-New York 1992–2001
    • Volume 1, Wolfgang Neugebauer (Ed.): The 17th and 18th centuries and major topics in the history of Prussia
    • Volume 2, Otto Büsch (Hrsg.): The 19th century and great subjects of the history of Prussia, manual of Prussian history
    • Volume 3, Wolfgang Neugebauer (Ed.): From the Empire to the 20th Century and Great Themes in the History of Prussia
  • Christopher Clark : The rise and fall of Prussia, 1600 to 1947, Pantheon Verlag, 2008
  • Ingrid Mittenzwei , Erika Herzfeld: Brandenburg-Prussia 1648–1789. 1st edition. Verlag der Nation, Berlin 1987, ISBN 3-373-00004-1 .
  • Uwe A. Oster: Prussia. Story of a kingdom. Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-492-05191-0 .
  • Hartwin Spenkuch: Prussia - a special history: state, economy, society and culture 1648–1947 , Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2019
  • Wilhelm Treue: Economic and technical history of Prussia, de Gruyter Verlag, Berlin-New York 1984

Web links

Wikisource: Prussia  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. This Clark (2006) in Iron Kingdom : "In due course, even the ancient and venerable name of Brandenburg would be Overshadowed by 'Kingdom of Prussia', the name increasingly used in the eighteenth century for the totality of the northern Hohenzollern lands" (P. 65) and “The words 'kingdom of Prussia' were incorporated into the official denomination of every Hohenzollern province” (p. 77).
  2. Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger: The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation: From the end of the Middle Ages to 1806, CHBeck Verlag, 5th edition, 2013, in: Chapter V - From Consolidation to the Crisis of the Imperial Institutions (1555-1618), p. 66 -69
  3. Christopher Clark: Prussia. The rise and fall of 1600-1947. 1st edition. Pantheon Verlag, 2008, p. 97.
  4. Christopher Clark: Prussia. Rise and Fall 1600 - 1947. 1 edition. Pantheon Verlag, 2008, p. 105.
  5. Peter-Michael Hahn: Princely territorial sovereignty and local aristocratic power: The lordly penetration of the rural area between the Elbe and Aller (1300–1700). Publications of the Historical Commission in Berlin, Volume 72, De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1989, pp. 1–10.
  6. Prussia 1701 - A European History, Volume II - Essays, Ed. Deutsches Historisches Museum and SPSG, exhibition catalog for the exhibition of the same name in Charlottenburg Palace from May 6, 2001 to August 5, 2001, Henschel Verlag, p. 34
  7. ^ Ines Elsner: Friedrich III./I. von Brandenburg-Prussia (1688–1713) and the Berlin Residence Landscape: Studies on an Early Modern Court on Travel - A Residence Handbook, Berliner Wissenschaftsverlag, Berlin 2012, summary as a book review in: Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung 42 (2015) 2, pp. 358f
  8. Christopher Clark: Prussia. Rise and decline 1600 - 1947. 1st edition, Pantheon Verlag, 2008, p. 99.
  9. Georg Heinrich von Berenhorst : From the estate , ed. E. v. Bülow I, Dessau 1845, p. 187.
  10. ^ Gerhild HM Komander: The change of the "Sehepuncktes": the history of Brandenburg-Prussia in graphics from 1648-1810, Lit Verlag, Münster-Hamburg 1995, p. 113
  11. ^ Sven Externbrink : Friedrich der Große, Maria Theresia und das Alte Reich: Deutschlandbild und das alten Reich, Akademie Verlag , Berlin 2006, p. 211
  12. a b Michael Kotulla: German Constitutional History: From the Old Reich to Weimar (1495 to 1934). Springer Verlag, Berlin / Heidelberg 2008, p. 276.
  13. Hans Martin Sieg: State service, state thinking and service attitude in Brandenburg-Prussia in the 18th century (1713-1806): Studies for the understanding of absolutism, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2003, p. 363f
  14. ^ Hans Rosenberg: The Formation and Transformation of the Bureaucratic Nobility during the 18th Century. In: Otto Büsch, Wolfgang Neugebauer (Hrsg.): Moderne Preußische Geschichte , vol. 2, p. 649 ff.
  15. Michael Kotulla: German Constitutional History: From the Old Reich to Weimar (1495 to 1934), Springer Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg 2008, p. 274
  16. ^ Hugo Rachel: Mercantilism in Brandenburg-Prussia. In: Otto Büsch, Wolfgang Neugebauer (Hrsg.): Moderne Preußische Geschichte , Vol. 2, pp. 951 ff.
  17. Lorenz Friedrich Beck, Julius H. Schoeps, Thomas Gerber, Marco Zabel: The Soldier King: Friedrich Wilhelm I. in his time, Verlag für Berlin-Brandenburg , 2003, p. 53
  18. ^ Michael Maurer: Church, State and Society in the 17th and 18th Centuries, Encyclopedia of German History Volume 51, R. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 1999, pp. 93–97
  19. Klaus Schubert, Nils C. Bandelow: Textbook of Political Field Analysis, 3rd Edition, de Gruyter Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 2014, p. 36f
  20. Klaus Schwieger describes the effects: Military and bourgeoisie. On the social impact of the Prussian military system in the 18th century. In: Dirk Blasius (ed.): Prussia in German history , Königstein / Ts. 1980, p. 179 ff.
  21. On the overall aspects of the reign of Friedrich II. See Wilhelm Treue (Ed.): Prussia's great king. Freiburg and Würzburg 1986.
  22. Simone Schmon: Power and rule of law: the understanding of the state in Heinrich von Kleist's “Prince Friedrich von Homburg”, Böhlau Verlag, Cologne-Weimar-Wien 2007, p. 27
  23. ^ Henri Brunschwig gives an overview of the Frederician Enlightenment: Enlightenment in Prussia. In: Otto Büsch, Wolfgang Neugebauer (Hrsg.): Moderne Preußische Geschichte , Vol. 3, pp. 1307 ff.
  24. ^ Hermann Conrad: Rule of law aspirations in the absolutism of Prussia and Austria at the end of the 18th century, Westdeutscher Verlag , Cologne and Opladen 1961, pp. 14, 18f
  25. Simone Schmon: Power and rule of law: the understanding of the state in Heinrich von Kleist's “Prince Friedrich von Homburg”, Böhlau Verlag, Cologne-Weimar-Wien 2007, pp. 30–34
  26. Bruno Gebhardt , Walter Demel : Handbook of German History: Reich, Reforms and Social Change, 1763-1806, Klett-Cotta Verlag , 10th edition, 12th volume, 2005, p. 228f
  27. Peter Nitschke: Reason of State versus Utopia ?: From Thomas Müntzer to Friedrich II. Von Preussen, Verlag JB Metzler, Stuttgart 1995, p. 246f
  28. Bruno Gebhardt, Walter Demel: Handbook of German history: Reich, reforms and social change, 1763-1806. Klett-Cotta Verlag, 10th edition, 12th volume, 2005, p. 237.
  29. Alexander Ritter: JG Müller von Itzehoe and the German Late Enlightenment: Studies on Literature and Society in the 18th Century: 150th anniversary of death d. Writer Johann Gottwerth Müller on June 23, 1978], Westholsteinische Verlagsanstalt Boyens, 1978, p. 215
  30. Adelheid Simsch: The economic policies of the Prussian state in the province of South Prussia 1793-1806 / 7, fonts for Economic and Social History, Volume 33, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1983, pp 40-42
  31. Christopher Duffy: Frederick the Great: A soldier's life. Weltbild, Augsburg 1994, ISBN 3-89350-558-X , p. 329
  32. František Stellner: final results of the Seven Years War in Europe. P. 86 (PDF; 7.36 MB)
  33. Martin Vogt: German History: From the Beginnings to Reunification, Verlag JB Metzler, Stuttgart-Weimar 1994, p. 272
  34. Bruno Gebhardt , Walter Demel : Handbook of German History: Reich, Reforms and Social Change, 1763-1806, Klett-Cotta Verlag , 10th edition, 12th volume, 2005, p. 264f
  35. ^ Hoffmann / Jander: Modern Prussia in the 18th Century? , Herrman Schroedel Verlag KG, Hanover 1981, p. 100.
  36. Hans Martin Sieg: State service, state thinking and service attitude in Brandenburg-Prussia in the 18th century (1713-1806): Studies for the understanding of absolutism, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2003, p. 336
  37. ^ Hermann Conrad: The general land law of 1794 as a basic law of the Frederician state. In: Otto Büsch, Wolfgang Neugebauer (Hrsg.): Moderne Preußische Geschichte , Vol. 2, p. 598 ff.
  38. Christopher Clark: Prussia rise and decline 1600 to 1947, Pantheon Verlag, 2008, p. 335
  39. ^ Heinz Duchhardt: Old Reich and European States 1648-1806, Encyclopedia of German History Volume 4, R. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 1990, p. 47f
  40. ^ Karl Otmar von Aretin: From the German Empire to the German Confederation, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2nd edition, Göttingen 1993, pp. 75–79
  41. Hans Martin Sieg: State service, state thinking and service attitude in Brandenburg-Prussia in the 18th century (1713-1806): Studies for the understanding of absolutism, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2003, p. 340
  42. Georg Hassel: Statistical outline of all European states in terms of their size, population, cultural conditions, action, financial and military constitution and their non-European possessions. 2 parts, Vieweg Verlag, Braunschweig 1805, p. 3ff. (PDF; 101 MB)
  43. ^ Wilhelm Bringmann: Prussia in 1806, ibidem Verlag, Stuttgart 2019, p. 44
  44. Christopher Clark: Prussia rise and decline 1600 to 1947, Pantheon Verlag, 2008, p. 333
  45. Hans Martin Sieg: State service, state thinking and service attitude in Brandenburg-Prussia in the 18th century (1713-1806): Studies for the understanding of absolutism, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2003, p. 345
  46. Hans Martin Sieg: State service, state thinking and service attitude in Brandenburg-Prussia in the 18th century (1713-1806): Studies for the understanding of absolutism, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2003, p. 346
  47. ^ Georg Kotowski: Wilhelm von Humboldt and the German University. In: Otto Büsch, Wolfgang Neugebauer (ed.): Modern Prussian History , Vol. 3, pp. 1346ff.
  48. Gordon A. Craig: Stein, Scharnhorst and the Prussian reforms. In: Ders .: The Prussian-German Army 1640–1945. Staat im Staate , Düsseldorf 1960, pp. 56–72; Jürgen Kloosterhuis / Sönke Neitzel eds., Crisis, reforms - and the military. Prussia before and after the disaster of 1806 , Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2009.
  49. Christopher Clark: Prussia rise and decline 1600 to 1947, Pantheon Verlag, 2008, pp. 416-419
  50. Christopher Clark: Prussia rise and decline 1600 to 1947, Pantheon Verlag, 2008, p. 429f
  51. Christopher Clark: Prussia rise and decline 1600 to 1947 , Pantheon Verlag, 2008, p. 467
  52. a b Christopher Clark: Prussia rise and decline 1600 to 1947 , Pantheon Verlag, 2008, p. 449
  53. a b Christopher Clark: Prussia rise and decline 1600 to 1947 , Pantheon Verlag, 2008, p. 451
  54. Christopher Clark: Prussia rise and decline 1600 to 1947 , Pantheon Verlag, 2008, p. 458
  55. Christopher Clark: Prussia rise and decline 1600 to 1947 , Pantheon Verlag, 2008, p. 459
  56. Christopher Clark: Prussia rise and decline 1600 to 1947, Pantheon Verlag, 2008, p. 460
  57. Christopher Clark: Prussia rise and decline 1600 to 1947, Pantheon Verlag, 2008, p. 462
  58. Christopher Clark: Prussia rise and decline 1600 to 1947, Pantheon Verlag, 2008, p. 463
  59. Christopher Clark: Prussia rise and decline 1600 to 1947, Pantheon Verlag, 2008, p. 465
  60. For the historical perspective still in the imperial era, see Otto Hintze: The monarchical principle and the constitutional constitution (first published in 1911), in: Otto Büsch, Wolfgang Neugebauer (ed.): Moderne Preußische Geschichte , vol. 2, p. 731ff.
  61. a b Christopher Clark: Prussia rise and decline 1600 to 1947, Pantheon Verlag, 2008, p. 470
  62. Christopher Clark: Prussia rise and decline 1600 to 1947, Pantheon Verlag, 2008, p. 466
  63. Christopher Clark: Prussia rise and decline 1600 to 1947, Pantheon Verlag, 2008, p. 469
  64. Christopher Clark: Prussia rise and decline 1600 to 1947, Pantheon Verlag, 2008, p. 471. 474
  65. ^ Richard H. Tilly: The political economy of financial policy and the industrialization of Prussia, 1815-1866. In: Dirk Blasius (ed.): Prussia in German history , Königstein / Ts. 1980, pp. 203ff.
  66. ^ William Otto Henderson: Prussia and the Founding of the German Zollverein. In: Otto Büsch, Wolfgang Neugebauer (Hrsg.): Moderne Preußische Geschichte , Vol. 2, pp. 1088 ff.
  67. Christopher Clark: Prussian rise and decline 1600 to 1947, Pantheon Verlag, 2008, p. 468
  68. Otto Büsch (Ed.): The 19th Century and Great Subjects of the History of Prussia, Handbook of Prussian History, Volume 2, Walter de Gruyter Verlag, Berlin-New York 1992-2001, p. 192
  69. Christopher Clark: Prussia rise and decline 1600 to 1947, Pantheon Verlag, 2008, p. 472f
  70. Otto Büsch (Ed.): The 19th Century and Great Subjects of the History of Prussia, Handbook of Prussian History, Volume 2, Walter de Gruyter Verlag, Berlin-New York 1992-2001, p. 195
  71. Otto Büsch (Ed.): The 19th Century and Great Subjects of the History of Prussia, Handbook of Prussian History, Volume 2, Walter de Gruyter Verlag, Berlin-New York 1992-2001, p. 199
  72. Otto Büsch (Ed.): The 19th Century and Great Subjects of the History of Prussia, Handbook of Prussian History, Volume 2, Walter de Gruyter Verlag, Berlin-New York 1992-2001, p. 202
  73. Brigitte Beier: Die Chronik der Deutschen, Chronik Verlag, Gütersloh-Munich 2007, p. 230
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