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There was also a two-house parliament. The lower house, or Reichstag Diet , was elected by universal male suffrage. The upper house, or Bundesrat Federal Council was appointed by the state governments.
The Bundesrat was, in practice, the stronger chamber. Prussia had 17 of 43 votes and could easily control proceedings through alliances with the other states.
For all intents and purposes, the new grouping was dominated by Bismarck. He served as his own foreign minister for virtually his entire tenure as prime minister of Prussia, and in that capacity was able to instruct the Prussian delegates to the Bundesrat.
The southern German states except Austria were forced to accept military alliances with Prussia, and Prussia began steps to merge them with the North German Confederation.
Activating the German alliances put in place after the Austro-Prussian War, the German states came together and swiftly defeated France, even managing to take Napoleon prisoner.
Even before then, Bismarck was able to complete the work of unifying Germany under Prussian leadership. The patriotic fervour aroused by the war with France overwhelmed the remaining opponents of a unified nation, and on 18 January the th anniversary of the coronation of the first Prussian king, Frederick I , the German Empire was proclaimed in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles outside of Paris , while the French capital was still under siege.
King William became the first emperor of a unified Germany. The imperial crown was a hereditary office of the House of Hohenzollern.
Prussia also had a large plurality of seats in the Bundesrat, with 17 votes out of 58 17 out of 61 after ; no other state had more than six votes. As before, it could effectively control the proceedings with the support of its allies in the secondary states.
As mentioned above, Bismarck served as foreign minister of Prussia for almost his entire career, and in that role instructed the Prussian deputies to the Bundesrat.
The Imperial Army was essentially an enlarged Prussian army, and the embassies of the new empire were mostly old Prussian embassies. The constitution of the German Empire was essentially an amended version of the constitution of the North German Confederation.
However, the seeds for future problems lay in a gross disparity between the imperial and Prussian systems. The empire granted the vote to all men over Within 20 years, the situation was reversed; the cities and towns accounted for two-thirds of the population.
However, in both the kingdom and the empire, the constituencies were never redrawn to reflect the growing population and influence of the cities and towns.
This meant that rural areas were grossly overrepresented from the s onward. Bismarck realised that the rest of Europe was skeptical of his powerful new Reich, and turned his attention to preserving peace with such acts as the Congress of Berlin.
The new German Empire improved its already-strong relations with Britain. The new emperor, a decided Anglophile, planned to transform Prussia and the empire into a more liberal and democratic monarchy based on the British model.
However, Frederick was already ill with inoperable throat cancer, and died after only 99 days on the throne. He was succeeded by his year-old son, William II.
The new Kaiser Wiliam rapidly soured relations with the British and Russian royal families despite being closely related to them , becoming their rival and ultimately their enemy.
Before and during World War I — , Prussia supplied significant numbers of soldiers and sailors in the German military, and Prussian Junkers dominated the higher ranks.
In addition, portions of the Eastern Front were fought on Prussian soil. Prussia — along with Germany as a whole — experienced increasing troubles with revolutionaries during the war.
The Great War ended by armistice on 11 November Uprisings in Berlin and other centres began the civil conflict of the German Revolution of —19 German: William knew that he had lost his imperial crown for good, but still hoped to retain his Prussian crown.
However, this was impossible under the imperial constitution, which stipulated that the imperial crown was tied to the Prussian crown.
In any event, he had lost support of the military who might have fought for him. With armed revolts, mass strikes, and street fighting in Berlin, the Prussian state government declared a state of siege and appealed for imperial military aid.
By the end of the fighting on 16 March, they had killed approximately 1, people, many of them unarmed and uninvolved.
The revolutionary period lasted from November until the establishment in August of a republic that later became known as the Weimar Republic.
Prussia was incorporated as a state in the Weimar Republic. Under the republic, undemocratic public institutions were abolished, including the disappearance "of the Prussian Upper House, [and] the former Prussian Lower House that had been elected in accordance with the three-class suffrage".
The joint authority, feudal and bureaucratic , on which Prussian absolute monarchy was based, saw its interests laid in suppression of the drive for personal freedom and democratic rights.
It therefore had to recourse on police methods. The lower house, or Landtag was elected by all taxpayers, who were divided into three classes according to the amount of taxes paid.
The upper house, which was later renamed the Prussian House of Lords , was appointed by the king. He retained full executive authority and ministers were responsible only to him.
As a result, the grip of the landowning classes, the Prussian Junkers , remained unbroken, especially in the eastern provinces. Prussian Secret Police , formed in response to the Revolutions of in the German states , aided the conservative government.
The constitution of was enacted and set into effect on December 5, , by Frederick William IV. This was set out in response to the revolutions of The second constitution was enacted on January 31, , and was continually amended in the following years.
The Constitution of occurred under the rule of Frederick William IV who took power from his father after his death in the year After taking power, William set an appointment of committees to confer on points of various questions.
With this the king believed that he could give a sense of unity without revolution. The government was then cautiously brought together, all members of the eight provincial assemblies, and split into two houses, a house of lords and a second house that enveloped the three estates of the knights, the burgesses and the peasants.
Although they had no real power and the king did not consult them or allow them to veto or argue the legislatures that were being made, it was a step towards a constitutional state.
Known as the "March Days", radical changes began to occur. When the king refused to add the United Diets into an actual representative institution, the people began to rebel.
On March 18 the king made the decision to agree to some concessions. However, there were multiple stand-offs with soldiers as he had not been able to stop them from attacking even peaceful crowds.
In March the king agreed to demands issued by the people and made a number of concessions. At the May 22, , convention he put out the sketch of the new constitution.
The people submitted a revised draft on July 26, When all discussions were finished, Frederick dissolved the convention and the constitution was officially put in place on December 5, The constitution was separated into different articles headed under eight separate headings.
Each of these groups varies in numbers of articles with the seventh and ninth sections having only one article each and the second section having forty separate articles.
There have also been fourteen provisions divided into General Provisions and Temporary Provisions. The Prussian constitution of allowed for the freedom of conscience, the freedom of public and private worship and the freedom of association onto religious bodies.
It stated that all churches and other religious associations should administer everything independently and privately from the state and that no part of the government may affect the Church.
The constitution also stated that all children should be taught their religion from people of their own religion and not by someone else.
As a breakdown of the religion of the kingdom, according to a census taken in the early or mid s, around the s there was a division of six religions based on one million people.
According to this census there were , Although dominated by Protestant Lutherans along with some Reformed , it contained millions of Catholics in the west and in Poland.
There were numerous Catholic populations in the Rhineland and parts of Westphalia. The original core regions of the Kingdom of Prussia were the Margraviate of Brandenburg and the Duchy of Prussia which together formed Brandenburg-Prussia.
A Further Pomeranian province had been held by Prussia since Combined with Swedish Pomerania , gained from Sweden in and , this region formed the Province of Pomerania.
Prussian gains in the Silesian Wars led to the formation of the Province of Silesia in These three provinces were ultimately lost to Congress Poland after the Congress of Vienna in , except for the western part of South Prussia, which would form part of the Grand Duchy of Posen.
Following the major western gains made by Prussia after the Vienna Congress, a total of ten provinces were established, each one subdivided further into smaller administrative regions known as Regierungsbezirke.
In , the Provinces of East and West Prussia merged to form the Province of Prussia , but the separate provinces were reformed in The principalities of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Hohenzollern-Hechingen were annexed in to form the Province of Hohenzollern.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Former German state — Royal coat of arms. Kingdom of Prussia red within German Empire red and light yellow between and Roman Catholicism , Judaism.
New Imperialism World War I. Brandenburg-Prussia and King in Prussia. Italy and 14 German states . Administrative divisions of the German Empire on 1 January Minister President of Prussia and List of Prussian finance ministers.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. The Evolution of Prussia, the Making of an Empire. United States of America: Harcourt, Brace and Company.
English Universities Press, A History of Germany, — The Origins of Prussia. The Role of Prussia in German History. Henry Regnery Company, The Rise of Brandenburg-Prussia.
The Ludwig von Mises Institute. Retrieved 4 November Constitution of the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia revised found at http: Political Science Quarterly Vol.
The Academy of Political Science Journal of the Statistical Society of London Vol. Wiley for the Royal Statistical Society Territories and provinces of Prussia — Post-Congress of Vienna — Territorial reforms after States of the German Confederation — States of the North German Confederation — States of the German Empire — German colonial empire Mittelafrika Mitteleuropa.
List of monarchs who lost their thrones in the 20th century List of monarchs who lost their thrones in the 19th century. Retrieved from " https: Kingdom of Prussia History of Prussia Former kingdoms Former monarchies of Europe States of the German Confederation States of the North German Confederation States of the German Empire 18th century in Prussia 19th century in Prussia s in Prussia s in Prussia States and territories established in States and territories disestablished in establishments in Prussia disestablishments in Prussia establishments in the Holy Roman Empire establishments in Europe disestablishments in Europe.
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The Kingdom of Prussia was thus abolished in favour of a republic—the Free State of Prussia , a state of Germany from until From , Prussia lost its independence as a result of the Prussian coup , when the Nazi regime was successfully establishing its Gleichschaltung laws in pursuit of a unitary state.
With the end of the Nazi regime, in , the division of Germany into allied-occupation zones and the separation of its territories east of the Oder—Neisse line , which were incorporated into Poland and the Soviet Union, the State of Prussia ceased to exist de facto.
The name Prussia derives from the Old Prussians ; in the 13th century, the Teutonic Knights —an organized Catholic medieval military order of German crusaders —conquered the lands inhabited by them.
Their monastic state was mostly Germanised through immigration from central and western Germany , and, in the south, it was Polonised by settlers from Masovia.
The Second Peace of Thorn split Prussia into the western Royal Prussia , a province of Poland, and the eastern part, from called the Duchy of Prussia , a fief of the Crown of Poland up to The union of Brandenburg and the Duchy of Prussia in led to the proclamation of the Kingdom of Prussia in Prussia entered the ranks of the great powers shortly after becoming a kingdom,     and exercised most influence in the 18th and 19th centuries.
During the 18th century it had a major say in many international affairs under the reign of Frederick the Great.
The country then grew rapidly in influence economically and politically, and became the core of the North German Confederation in , and then of the German Empire in The Kingdom ended in along with other German monarchies that collapsed as a result of the German Revolution.
In the Weimar Republic , the Free State of Prussia lost nearly all of its legal and political importance following the coup led by Franz von Papen.
Subsequently, it was effectively dismantled into Nazi German Gaue in Prussia, deemed a bearer of militarism and reaction by the Allies was officially abolished by an Allied declaration in The international status of the former eastern territories of Germany was disputed until the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany in , while its return to Germany remains a topic among far right politicians, the Federation of Expellees and various political revisionists.
The term Prussian has often been used, especially outside Germany, to emphasise professionalism, aggressiveness, militarism and conservatism of the Junker class of landed aristocrats in the East who dominated first Prussia and then the German Empire.
The main coat of arms of Prussia , as well as the flag of Prussia , depicted a black eagle on a white background.
The black and white national colours were already used by the Teutonic Knights and by the Hohenzollern dynasty. The Teutonic Order wore a white coat embroidered with a black cross with gold insert and black imperial eagle.
Suum cuique "to each, his own" , the motto of the Order of the Black Eagle created by King Frederick I in , was often associated with the whole of Prussia.
Before its abolition, the territory of the Kingdom of Prussia included the provinces of West Prussia ; East Prussia ; Brandenburg ; Saxony including much of the present-day state of Saxony-Anhalt and parts of the state of Thuringia in Germany ; Pomerania ; Rhineland ; Westphalia ; Silesia without Austrian Silesia ; Lusatia ; Schleswig-Holstein ; Hanover ; Hesse-Nassau ; and a small detached area in the south called Hohenzollern , the ancestral home of the Prussian ruling family.
The land that the Teutonic Knights occupied was flat and covered with rich soil. The land was perfectly suited to the large-scale raising of wheat.
Teutonic Prussia became known as the "bread basket of Western Europe" in German, Kornkammer , or granary. Wheat production and trade brought Prussia into close relationship with the Hanseatic League during the period of time from official founding of the Hanseatic League until the decline of the League in about The expansion of Prussia based on its connection with the Hanseatic League cut both Poland and Lithuania off from the coast of the Baltic Sea and trade abroad.
In , he expelled them again, and they had to transfer to the Baltic Sea. Konrad I , the Polish duke of Masovia , unsuccessfully attempted to conquer pagan Prussia in crusades in and The final border between Prussia and the adjoining Grand Duchy of Lithuania was determined in the Treaty of Melno in The Hanseatic League was officially formed in northern Europe in as a group of trading cities that came to hold a monopoly on all trade leaving the interior of Europe and Scandinavia and on all sailing trade in the Baltic Sea for foreign countries.
In the course of the Ostsiedlung German eastward expansion process, settlers were invited, bringing changes in the ethnic composition as well as in language, culture, and law.
As a majority of these settlers were Germans, Low German became the dominant language. The Knights were subordinate to the pope and the emperor. Pursuant to the Second Peace of Thorn, two Prussian states were established .
For the first time, these lands came into the hands of a branch of the Hohenzollern family. The Hohenzollern dynasty had ruled the Margraviate of Brandenburg to the west, a German state centred on Berlin , since the 15th century.
Furthermore, with his renunciation of the Order, Albert could now marry and produce legitimate heirs. Brandenburg and Prussia united two generations later.
When Albert Frederick died in without male heirs, John Sigismund was granted the right of succession to the Duchy of Prussia, then still a Polish fief.
From this time the Duchy of Prussia was in personal union with the Margraviate of Brandenburg. The resulting state, known as Brandenburg-Prussia , consisted of geographically disconnected territories in Prussia, Brandenburg, and the Rhineland lands of Cleves and Mark.
His successor, Frederick William I — , reformed the army to defend the lands. In January , during the first phase of the Second Northern War — , he received the duchy as a fief from the Swedish king who later granted him full sovereignty in the Treaty of Labiau November In the Polish king renewed this grant in the treaties of Wehlau and Bromberg.
With Prussia, the Brandenburg Hohenzollern dynasty now held a territory free of any feudal obligations, which constituted the basis for their later elevation to kings.
Frederick William I became known [ by whom? The state of Brandenburg-Prussia became commonly known as "Prussia", although most of its territory, in Brandenburg, Pomerania, and western Germany, lay outside Prussia proper.
The Prussian state grew in splendour during the reign of Frederick I, who sponsored the arts at the expense of the treasury.
Frederick I was succeeded by his son, Frederick William I — , the austere "Soldier King", who did not care for the arts but was thrifty and practical.
In view of the size of the army in relation to the total population, Mirabeau said later: In the treaty of Stockholm , he acquired half of Swedish Pomerania.
The king died in and was succeeded by his son, Frederick II , whose accomplishments led to his reputation as "Frederick the Great".
In , Prussian troops crossed over the undefended border of Silesia and occupied Schweidnitz. Silesia was the richest province of Habsburg Austria.
He was succeeded to the throne by his daughter, Maria Theresa. In spite of some impressive victories afterward, his situation became far less comfortable the following years, as he failed in his attempts to knock Austria out of the war and was gradually reduced to a desperate defensive war.
However, he never gave up and on 3 November the Prussian king won another battle, the hard-fought Battle of Torgau. Despite being several times on the verge of defeat Frederick, allied with Great Britain , Hanover and Hesse-Kassel , was finally able to hold the whole of Silesia against a coalition of Saxony , Austria , France and Russia.
The Silesian Wars began more than a century of rivalry and conflict between Prussia and Austria as the two most powerful states operating within the Holy Roman Empire although both had extensive territory outside the empire.
In the last 23 years of his reign until , Frederick II, who understood himself as the "first servant of the state", promoted the development of Prussian areas such as the Oderbruch.
Prussia became a safe haven in much the same way that the United States welcomed immigrants seeking freedom in the 19th century. Frederick the Great, the first "King of Prussia", practised enlightened absolutism.
He introduced a general civil code, abolished torture and established the principle that the Crown would not interfere in matters of justice. Prussia took a leading part in the French Revolutionary Wars , but remained quiet for more than a decade due to the Peace of Basel of , only to go once more to war with France in as negotiations with that country over the allocation of the spheres of influence in Germany failed.
Under the Treaties of Tilsit in , the state lost about one third of its area, including the areas gained from the second and third Partitions of Poland , which now fell to the Duchy of Warsaw.
Beyond that, the king was obliged to pay a large indemnity, to cap his army at 42, men, and to let the French garrison troops throughout Prussia, effectively making the Kingdom a French satellite.
In response to this defeat, reformers such as Stein and Hardenberg set about modernising the Prussian state.
Among their reforms were the liberation of peasants from serfdom , the Emancipation of Jews and making full citizens of them.
The school system was rearranged, and in free trade was introduced. The process of army reform ended in with the introduction of compulsory military service.
The rest consisted of regular soldiers that were deemed excellent by most observers, and very determined to repair the humiliation of After the defeat of Napoleon in Russia , Prussia quit its alliance with France and took part in the Sixth Coalition during the "Wars of Liberation" Befreiungskriege against the French occupation.
In exchange, Prussia withdrew from areas of central Poland to allow the creation of Congress Poland under Russian sovereignty.
The first half of the 19th century saw a prolonged struggle in Germany between liberals, who wanted a united, federal Germany under a democratic constitution, and conservatives , who wanted to maintain Germany as a patchwork of independent, monarchical states with Prussia and Austria competing for influence.
One small movement that signaled a desire for German unification in this period was the Burschenschaft student movement, by students who encouraged the use of the black-red-gold flag, discussions of a unified German nation, and a progressive, liberal political system.
Prussia benefited greatly from the creation in of the German Customs Union Zollverein , which included most German states but excluded Austria.
In the liberals saw an opportunity when revolutions broke out across Europe. This conservative document provided for a two-house parliament.
The lower house, or Landtag was elected by all taxpayers, who were divided into three classes whose votes were weighted according to the amount of taxes paid.
Women and those who paid no taxes had no vote. The upper house, which was later renamed the Herrenhaus "House of Lords" , was appointed by the king.
He retained full executive authority and ministers were responsible only to him. As a result, the grip of the landowning classes, the Junkers , remained unbroken, especially in the eastern provinces.
Bismarck was determined to defeat both the liberals and conservatives and increase Prussian supremacy and influence among the German states.
There has been much debate as to whether Bismarck actually planned to create a united Germany when he set out on this journey, or whether he simply took advantage of the circumstances that fell into place.
Certainly his memoirs paint a rosy picture of an idealist [ citation needed ] , but these were written with the benefit of hindsight and certain crucial events could not have been predicted.
What is clear is that Bismarck curried support from large sections of the people by promising to lead the fight for greater German unification.
He eventually guided Prussia through three wars, which together brought William the position of German Emperor. The Kingdom of Denmark was at the time in personal union with the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein , both of which had close ties with each other, although only Holstein was part of the German Confederation.
In , Denmark introduced a shared constitution for Denmark and Schleswig. This led to conflict with the German Confederation, which authorised the occupation of Holstein by the Confederation, from which Danish forces withdrew.
The Austro-Prussian forces defeated the Danes, who surrendered both territories. In the resulting Gastein Convention of Prussia took over the administration of Schleswig while Austria assumed that of Holstein.
Bismarck realised that the dual administration of Schleswig and Holstein was only a temporary solution, and tensions rose between Prussia and Austria.
The struggle for supremacy in Germany then led to the Austro-Prussian War , triggered by the dispute over Schleswig and Holstein.
On the side of Prussia were Italy, most north German states, and some smaller central German states. The century-long struggle between Berlin and Vienna for dominance of Germany was now over.
As a side show in this war, Prussia defeated Hanover in the Battle of Langensalza While Hanover hoped in vain for help from Britain as they had previously been in personal union , Britain stayed out of a confrontation with a continental great power and Prussia satisfied its desire for merging the once separate territories and gaining strong economic and strategic power, particularly from the full access to the resources of the Ruhr.
Bismarck desired Austria as an ally in the future, and so he declined to annex any Austrian territory. Prussia also won full control of Schleswig-Holstein.
Executive power was held by a president, assisted by a chancellor responsible only to him. The presidency was a hereditary office of the Hohenzollern rulers of Prussia.
There was also a two-house parliament. The lower house, or Reichstag Diet , was elected by universal male suffrage. The upper house, or Bundesrat Federal Council was appointed by the state governments.
The Bundesrat was, in practice, the stronger chamber. Prussia had 17 of 43 votes, and could easily control proceedings through alliances with the other states.
As a result of the peace negotiations, the states south of the Main remained theoretically independent, but received the compulsory protection of Prussia.
Additionally, mutual defence treaties were concluded. However, the existence of these treaties was kept secret until Bismarck made them public in , when France tried to acquire Luxembourg.
The controversy with the Second French Empire over the candidacy of a Hohenzollern to the Spanish throne was escalated both by France and Bismarck.
With his Ems Dispatch , Bismarck took advantage of an incident in which the French ambassador had approached William. However, honouring their treaties, the German states joined forces and quickly defeated France in the Franco-Prussian War in Officially, the German Empire was a federal state.
The Hohenzollern kingdom included three-fifths of the German territory and two-thirds of its population. The imperial crown was a hereditary office of the House of Hohenzollern , the royal house of Prussia.
The prime minister of Prussia was, except for two brief periods January—November and —94 , also imperial chancellor.
But the empire itself had no right to collect taxes directly from its subjects; the only incomes fully under federal control were the customs duties, common excise duties, and the revenue from postal and telegraph services.
While all men above age 25 were eligible to vote in imperial elections, Prussia retained its restrictive three-class voting system. In both the kingdom and the empire, the original constituencies were never redrawn to reflect changes in population, meaning that rural areas were grossly overrepresented by the turn of the 20th century.
As a result, Prussia and the German Empire were something of a paradox. Bismarck knew that his new German Reich was now a colossus out of all proportion to the rest of the continent.
With this in mind, he declared Germany a satisfied power, using his talents to preserve peace, for example at the Congress of Berlin. Bismarck had barely any success in some of his domestic policies, such as the anti-Catholic Kulturkampf , but he also had mixed success on ones like Germanisation or expulsion of Poles of foreign nationality Russian or Austro-Hungarian.
Frederick III , became emperor in March , after the death of his father, but he died of cancer only 99 days later. He turned out to be a man of limited experience, narrow and reactionary views, poor judgment, and occasional bad temper, which alienated former friends and allies.
Prussia nationalised its railways in the s in an effort both to lower rates on freight service and to equalise those rates among shippers.
Instead of lowering rates as far as possible, the government ran the railways as a profitmaking endeavour, and the railway profits became a major source of revenue for the state.
The nationalisation of the railways slowed the economic development of Prussia because the state favoured the relatively backward agricultural areas in its railway building.
Moreover, the railway surpluses substituted for the development of an adequate tax system. Prussia was proclaimed a "Free State" i.