Why didn't the linguistic split overlap with the religion split in Prussian Silesia?

Why didn't the linguistic split overlap with the religion split in Prussian Silesia?

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The Prussian province of Silesia was split in two "halves", the northwest, centered around Breslau (Wrocław), was mostly Protestant, German-speaking, and was akin to other regions of the kingdom of Prussia. The southeast, centered around Oppeln (Opole) however was very different as its inhabitants were very devout Catholics and mostly spoke a variety of Polish language.

The reason why the linguistic and religious borders overlap is quite simple: as the Prussian authorities tried to ban the Polish language and replace it with German, Protestants believers welcomed this move as a sign of economical progress and didn't resist the change, while Catholics saw this as aggression against their identity and actively resisted the change - and Catholic religious education was the only public place outside home where kid could learn the Polish language, which was banned from schools.

While the vast majority of the Silesian population could be fit in either the "Protestant German from Lower Silesia" or the "Catholic Pole from Upper Silesia" cliches, the linguistic and religious border actually didn't overlap as much as we'd expect.

The linguistic border was more or less on a North/South axis between Namslau (Namysłów) and Neustadt (Prudnik).

On the other side the religious border was an West/East axis between Neurode (Nowa Ruda) and Kreuzburg (Kluczbork).

This means there existed a triangle where the population was predominantly German and Catholic arround Glatz (Kłodzko) and Neisse (Nysa). There also existed a region which was predominately Protestant and Polish speaking around Kreuzburg (Kluczbork), and this city is even today one of the very few cities in Poland where the major church at "Rynek" marketplace is a Protestant church.

I am well aware that those maps mostly represent rural areas. Urban areas, including even small towns, were growing quickly and were inhabited by people who came from various areas of the country to work, so they were always multicultural religiously and when applicable, linguistically. On the other hand rural areas which made most of the land were mostly inhabited by people who are from here since a long time and the population is typically not growing much, so they are much less subject to change their linguistic and/or religious traditions.

My question is: How did those two "excentric" areas come into existence? Why didn't Catholics around Glatz and Neisse resist Germanisation like the other upper Silesians did? And why did the Protestants around Kreuzburg continue to speak Polish when all the other Protestants in the province switched to German in the 19th century?

The maps are simplifications for a very complicated setup. As such they are misleading in several ways.

  1. Spatially they represent large swathes of land with a limited number of gradients to ease identifications of majorities. Which inhabitants are located where is necessarily less precise than the situation on the ground.
  2. Temporally these maps show just one point in time for a very dynamic region of mixing, moving intermingling people within and around borders that changed over time.
  3. These maps are representations of the authorities, especially the second one. They do not reflect how people feel or acted, but how they were counted.
  4. Population density in cities is much higher than in the surrounding rural areas but that is not displayable in a map of this density.

First of all it is necessary to clarify that neither "Polish" nor "German" had as much meaning carrying than those words imply to us today when we look at the history of that region. And that description and analysis history has to start at least during the middle ages when "Germans" settled in that region and with the reformation splitting the unified Christian church into two factions (at least).

People moved around as much as they could and as they saw fit to make a living, sometimes assimilating into their surroundings sometimes starting to dominate the previous inhabitants and changing their ways and language. When protestantism started to spread it was a fad of consciousness and conviction regardless of heritage and language and it was very much fostered by smaller dukes and counts and whoever was "in charge of a territory", mainly as he saw fit to oppose the central power of the emperor or to just plunder Catholic possessions.

We know that this constellation lead to the Thirty Years War and ended with the principles of tolerance between Protestants and Catholics and cuius regio eius religio ('the regent's religion is the principle religion of the region'), however small such a regency was. Both principles followed much more closely than when originally proclaimed in 1555 and religion no longer an official reason for a great war.

That means quite a lot of people's movement, conversions, border changes, changes of authority, war, destruction, killings and resettlements. In the last 1000 years, to behold.

Take just the County of Glatz (Kłodzko): becoming German enough for a German name in 1223, not part of Silesia but Bohemia, during the Reformation a centre of Protestant sects, opposing the emperor and when invaded had 930 of then 1300 buildings destroyed. All members or sympathiser of that sect were severly punished. Then the city was struck heavily by the plague in 1635 and 1680. During the Silesian wars Prussia invaded and annexed it and made it finally part of Prussian province Silesia in 1808. That "the authorities" tried very much to change everything in that county to their liking is a story of centuries.

Then compare the second map with these, created just 5 years earlier:

Deutsch: Verteilung der Konfessionen im Deutschen Reich, ca. 1885, Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, 4th ed., vol. 4 Distribution of Protestants and Catholics

Deutsch: Bevölkerungs-Dichtigkeit im Deutschen Reich (1 : 4.400.000), Date circa 1885, Source Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, 4th ed., vol. 4 [Map of population density in the German Empire. Note that the shades indicate the rural areas and explicitly exclude cities larger than 20000 inhabitants. Cities are 'rated' purely by size and indicated as such by the size of the circles marking the spot]

Nothing of this long dynamic is meaningfully reflected in the maps above. In short that region was never really uniform nor unified, contrary to what the maps suggest even in their colourfulness.

While most of the general trends and descriptions for the processes outlined in the question (e.g. Protestants being more welcoming of the changes brought on by Prussian authorities) are not "incorrect", they are at the same time simplifications as well. Compare that linguistic description from the question to the one outlier, the single line West of Dortmund in the linguistic map from the question. It represents the "Polish" inhabitants of the Rhineland, the Ruhrpoles. How would you describe the dynamics surroundings them? Did they assimilate, did they "resist", left on their own accord or were they driven off? It is an uneasy task to find an all-encompassing term that is at the same time precise.

A "split" to observe is a mostly nationalistic construction. Taking that view to a historic extreme one might as well ask, if it is true that:

There have been some debates on whether or not the Silesians (historically, Upper Silesians) constitute a distinct nation. In modern history, they have often been pressured to declare themselves to be German, Polish or Czech, and use the language of the nation [that, sic!] was in control of Silesia.
WP Silesians

If we just look at the numbers, and define a split between Polish and German speakers, by counting Silesian speakers as Polish as well, in Upper-Silesia we get official numbers as:

The earliest exact census figures on ethnolinguistic or national structure (Nationalverschiedenheit) of the Prussian part of Upper Silesia, come from year 1819. The last pre-WW1 general census figures available, are from 1910 (if not including the 1911 census of school children - Sprachzählung unter den Schulkindern - which revealed a higher percent of Polish-speakers among school children than the 1910 census among the general populace). Figures show that large demographic changes took place between 1819 and 1910, with the region's total population quadrupling, the percent of German-speakers increasing significantly, and that of Polish-speakers declining considerably. Also the total land area in which Polish language was spoken, as well as the land area in which it was spoken by the majority, declined between 1790 and 1890.

Year 1819 1910 Polish 377,100 (67.2%) 1,169,340 (53.0%) German 162,600 (29.0%) 884,045 (40.0%)

WP: Upper Silesia, Ethnolinguistic structure before the plebiscite

Polish Silesian and German Silesian are actually quite often quite similar:

Deutscher Dialekt | Polnischer Dialekt | Deutsch | Polnisch German Silesian | Polish Silesian | German | Polish Jungaohs | huncwot, rojber | Hundsfott (ungezogener Junge) | łobuz, huncwot kascheln | klojzdnonć | auf dem Eis ausrutschen | pośliznąć się Kastrull | kastrol | großer Topf, Kasserolle | sagan Nudelkulle | nudelkula | Nudelholz | wałek do ciasta Ritsche | ryczka | Hocker | taboret Wurscht | wuszt | Wurst | kiełbasa rumurbern | růmplować/sznupać | rumwühlen | myszkować Pfusch | fucha | Schwarzarbeit, mangelhafte Arbeit, Pfusch | praca na czarno, ugs. robota na czarno, fucha Morast | maras | Schlamm, Morast | błoto Kokott | kokot | Hahn | kogut Kreppel | krepel | Krapfen/Berliner | pączek Wasserwaage | waserwoga | Wasserwaage | poziomica, waserwaga Mostrich | zynft, mostrichm | Senf, Mostert, Mustard, Mostrich | musztarda

Turning the initial argument on its head, we might also ask "why do some Upper Silesians still resist polonisation of their language, now"?

WP: Languages of CE Europe-3, showing Silesian as a distinct dialect/language in modern day Poland

What if the French Revolution never happened? | Fraternité en Rébellion

Anhalt has in modern times been but a footnote within the intricate realm of the HRE. As the Nine Years’ War waged across the continents in the 1820s and Prussia went up in revolutionary flames in 1878 on their eastern border, Anhalt stood as a proud though rather unnoteworthy duchy. The last direct possession of the House of Ascania, which once ruled all the way to the rugged cold of Russia under Catherine the Great, Anhalt began the nineteenth century under Duke Frederick I who would die in 1904 of a stroke, leaving his son Friedrich II as the new prince of Anhalt.

A popular and well-cultured man, Friedrich II, despite all the chaos and confusion in HRE at the time, did well and throughout the entirety of his reign Anhalt had a strong economy, content peasantry, and a renowned court theatre known across the entirety of Europe. Even as the revolutionary fervor of Prussia and its expansionism eyed their territory, Anhalt stood strong, and when Friedrich II would die without a son at the age of sixty-one he left the kingdom in the capable hands of his younger brother Prince Eduard.

At least, that is what had been planned. Prince Eduard died only a few months into his reign, leaving his seventeen years old son Joachim under the regency of Prince Aribert, his uncle. The regency was to last only a few months until Joachim turned eighteen and was expected to be rather uneventful. Unfortunately for the ruling family, Prince Aribert was at the center of a major scandal regarding his often rumored homosexuality, creating a huge amount of mistrust from the previously supportive nobility.

When Joachim became Prince of Anhalt he was already facing challenges as the economy was faltering and his uncle had created quite a large political mess for him to clean up. Instead of rising to the occasion as his other uncle Prince Frederick II had done, Prince Joachim instead brought about shame to the House of Ascania, as his actions only worsened the economic situation and his refusal to reform only brought about anger, both among the peasantry and the intellectuals. By the time of 1933, Joachim had run the country into the ground and anger was piling up. As time progresses, the chance of that anger exploding into popular fury is only increasing.

In 1933, Anhalt is in a difficult, though not impossible situation. Joachim, despite faring poorly as a ruler so far, still has some opportunity to reform and revitalize the historically great House of Ascania and the Duchy of Anhalt as well. The prospects of reform seem good, up until the month of June. As Prince Joachim travels on horseback through the capital of Dessau, the silence of the morning air is shattered abruptly. There is a shot in the crowd. As it rings through the air, confusion engulfs the area. The young Freieist responsible for the gunfire is quickly pinned to the ground by the mounted police, but it is too late. Prince Joachim lays dying on the cobbled streets of his own capital, the shot having torn directly through his heart. As Joachim died, little did he know of the hell about to engulf his erstwhile insignificant duchy. Without a son, his brother Prince Eugen Friedrich quickly claims the throne.

Shortly after being crowned the new Prince of Anhalt, the revolution which his family has fought so hard to prevent finally occurs. Freieists, inspired by their comrade in Dessau and backed by the Prussians, rise up across the eastern fields of Anhalt, ready to fight. In order to prevent even more Prussian expansionism, the Austrians almost immediately send support in the name of the status quo. Things are looking good for Prince Eugen, as his loyalist forces outnumber the Prussian-backed republican insurgents.

That is not to last for long however, as his brother Prince Wolfgang, believing his kin unfit for rule, claims the throne. Backed by the Elector of Hannover, Wolfgang seizes the westernmost portions of Anhalt. A last-ditch diplomatic effort to salvage peace is attempted within the halls of Nuremberg, but the dense jungle of bureaucracy and factionalism there makes such action impossible. The Anhalt Crisis has begun.

The first military confrontation within the HRE in nearly a decade has begun. Three factions within the small princedom now vie for rule. As support from their respective backers flows in, the crisis starts. Outdated doctrines from times past clash against industrially stamped modern weapons. With the innocent people of the princedom fleeing the carnage and destruction, the new and old order fight for the first time since the Saxon clashes of the 1910s. The entire HRE is horrified at the pile of bodies and rain of steel coming from the princedom, as it is realized for the first time that the doctrines of times past are no longer adequate to this new age. In the end though, there will be a breakthrough.

Whether Prince Eugen holds out long enough in the center of the duchy, Wolfgang and his army crash through the gates of Dessau, or the Freieist mobs overwhelm both, the small but destructive civil war will be finished in all likelihood by Fall of that year the HRE will never be the same again. In the wake of the Anhalt conflict, they all will prepare for war or their own mounting domestic unrest. However, this matters little for whoever emerges victorious in Anhalt, as they must rebuild.

The Freieists would likely be absorbed into Prussia, Eugen shall keep the status quo, while Wolfgang will prove that Hannover is a legitimate contender to the imperial crown. However, this is all foreign policy, and the population of Anhalt cares little for that at this point. German has fought against German and brother against brother yet again, and as fathers bury their sons, Anhalt mourns their dead. Thus ends the Anhalt Crisis, heralding a new age of uncertainty for the HRE.

The Electorate of Saxony

Long ago Saxony was a peaceful land. As Austrians and Prussians fought in the plains of Germany and Poland, Saxony was there watching with about the same interest as the rest of the neutral nations in the HRE at the time. When the Prussian eagle was finally slain and divided up between the victors, little did the population of Saxony know that only a century later it would be reborn, and that it would be laying its eyes on their territory. In the 1830s, as a deterrent against Prussian expansionism at the time, the Austrians realigned the borders of much of HRE as a part of a new program called the “Mediatization''.

Saxony benefited heavily from this as they became one of the strongest of the HRE states, but that fortune would soon turn. All was quiet along the streets of Dresden for the majority of the 19th century as the electors came and went without mattering much. That changed with the Austro-Prussian war of 1867 to 1868 and its side effects. Saxony sided with the Austrians against the ever-present Prussian threat and, together with their allies, beat back the Prussians, thus winning the war. The years of 1868 to 1878 would be the last decade of status quo for Saxony and it would end with frantic messages from Berlin. The Prussian Revolution had started and citizens of the former kingdom were starting to flee the guillotine en masse towards the borders of all neighboring states.

This included at the time an unnoteworthy teenager named Theodor Bormann, who would end up escaping to the Northern regions of Saxony. A massive refugee crisis had just occurred and the electorate, although accepting of the newfound population, found itself harboring a massive amount of people whose ideology was best described as “anti-republican” in focus. A violent anti-Freieist bias was starting to be developed in Saxony, though few at the time understood how far this would go. Saxony and its many new found citizens spent the next twenty-two years until 1900 in much the way they always had but with the notable exception of the eagle peering at them now gone. It was just at this point however that the talons had yet to land.

Saxony began the new century under King George of House Wettin in relative peace and prosperity even as tensions simmered. Liberal agitation was increasing in the north and the radically anti-Freieist refugees from Prussia were already taking liberties in “reeducating” them. The street brawls that were starting to pick up only pushed others farther and farther towards radicalism, while also encouraging the conservative elements to further escalation.

When King George died in 1904 leaving his son Frederick III as King of Saxony the situation in many of the Northern towns had gotten to the point where street brawls had simply become a way of life, as your political ideology in some ways decided which side of town you lived in, all the while repbulican Prussia regained its strength and began funding the most radical of the Freieist groups. Yet the worrying decade of the 1900s would prove comparatively benign compared to the fury in the 1910s. The decade started normally as Frederick III was trying to quench the radical republican and conservative agitation much as he had been attempting his entire reign, until halfway through the decade in 1915 phone calls started to come in from the north of the electorate.

The recent murder of two well-known Freieist in the region had set off a political firestorm and, in a similar note to 1878, a Freieist revolt had started in the north. Things were looking poorly as the anti-Freieist militias that had trained for so many years were crushed by the Freieist radicals, while the poorly funded Royal Saxon Army was barely able to mobilize a few understrength and under-equipped divisions. Then disaster struck: Prussia, supposedly in the name of the revolution, intervened and for two long weeks no one came to aid Saxony. No men, no guns, no help. The dreaded Freieist reign of terror made its way across the north and nearly reached the heartland of the electorate before Austria tabled a motion in Nuremberg and the rest of the HRE intervened, forcing a ceasefire.

The rump “Sister Republic of Saxony” was set up in the areas secured by the revolt, only for it to be quickly absorbed as another department of the Prussian Republic. In the midst of all this, Frederick III and his reign effectively collapsed as political chaos engulfed the entire country. Much of the northern population, out of which many had already been forced from their homes once before in 1878, were now evacuated to the south. Yet that mattered little at the time, as factions vied for power in the political vacuum of Dresden.

Only one year after, the commander of the nationalist branch of the anti-Freieist militias, Oskar Hergt, launched the infamous March on Dresden in 1916, thus occupying the city and much of the surrounding countryside, before forcing Frederick III to install him as the new Chancellor of Saxony. A complete upheaval of Saxon life then came as militarization and nationalist parades gained traction throughout the electorate, in opposition to both the Austrian betrayers and Prussian savages. However, this was just the start as a new age for Saxony had begun in earnest.

Within only seventeen years of his appointment as chancellor, Oskar had effectively made himself the uncontested dictator of Saxony through a drastic reduction in royal power and the employment of his own loyal army of nationalist militias, which he integrated into the government itself. All foreign based companies and properties were nationalized into the state and, although still a part of the HRE, similarly to their rival Prussia they stayed out of all non-essential affairs. But something else had also begun to grow within the electorate: a general aspiration for a unified German state.

Soon after his country's defeat by the Prussians, Oskar began to theorize that the only way to truly defeat Freieism and the radicals as a whole was to unify all of Germany against them. Whether this means under a single government or in a coalition matters little to Oskar, so long as republicanism is wiped out from the entirety of Europe. Yet the strength of Saxony’s resolve shall be tested. By 1933, factionalism has grown in Dresden. As the electorate's government has been split between different members of the original nationalist militias, their commanders and proteges have split upon minor differences in ideology instead of unifying under Oskar’s vision.

In response, Oskar can do nothing but try to calm down the inflamed tensions. The bureaucrats under the rising star Martin Bormann, militarists under Dietrich von Choltitz and finally the hardliners of Otto Georg Thierack all vie for power, all while Oskar tries to keep their focus on the Prussian Freieists instead of on each other. As the rats all scurry about, the newly crowned Elector of Saxony Georg intently watches in the hopes of reclaiming his family's honor and true rulership over the electorate. Now divided once again, it is yet to be seen whether Saxony will be able to unify Germany under the banner of nationalism and in opposition to the Freieist scourge of Prussia, or if they will fall under the heavy weight of factionalism and infighting. The world is watching the fields of Germania and Saxony shall surely be in the spotlight.

Electorate of Bavaria

The Electorate of Bavaria is Vienna’s favourite child, in spite of older fluctuating relations. A loyal, catholic member of the HRE, Bavaria is one of the main beneficiaries of continued Austrian influence over the Empire. If the Austrians will ever consider sponsoring German unification with a national discourse, they are likely to look to Bavaria for a stable and dependable junior partner. However, that is just a faraway possibility at the moment, as Bavaria enters a tumultuous 1933.

Throughout the 18th century, Bavaria was one of the first European states to experience with enlightened absolutism, especially through its prince-elector Maximilian III Joseph (1745–1777). A man of the Enlightenment, he did much to encourage agriculture, industries and the exploitation of the mineral wealth of the country he founded the Academy of Sciences at Munich, and abolished the Jesuit religious censorship of the press, a very controversial move at the time. At the same time however, the elector signed more death sentences than any of his predecessors ever had, signalling that no matter how enlightened his rule was, it also remained thoroughly absolute. Nevertheless, the economic and social progress of Bavaria during his reign earned him the nickname of “Max the much beloved” from the people.

Sadly for the Electorate, the rule of Karl Theodor (1777-1799) undid most of Maximilian III’s legacy. The enlightened internal policy of his predecessor was abandoned. The funds of the suppressed clerical monopolies, which Maximilian Joseph had destined for the reform of the educational system of the country, were instead used to endow a province of the knights of St John of Jerusalem, for the purpose of combating the enemies of the faith. The government was increasingly under the influence of the church, being inspired by the most dogmatic clericalism, which culminated in the attempt to withdraw the Bavarian bishops from the jurisdiction of the HRE’s institutions and place them directly under the authority of the Pope. As Bavaria entered the 19th century, its intellectual and social condition remained close to that of the Middle Ages.

This duality of the Electorate’s political and ideological outlook would become defining for Bavaria. Enlightened and reformist princes would alternate with regimes characterised by the strongest reactionarism. The first 2 decades of the 19th century would be rather uneventful for Bavaria, as its new prince Maximilian Joseph sought to redress the imbalances created by his predecessor. As the 9 Years’ War started ravaging Central Europe, Bavaria pledged its support to Austria in its struggle against Prussia. Initially, it seemed that the Austrian and combined HRE troops would simply overwhelm the Prussian forces with their numerical superiority.

However, the Prussians formed a small detachment, led by Clausewitz, which would be broken off to combine Prussian garrisons and detachments into a new western army to check the Bavarian reinforcements. It was in charge of this army that Clausewitz’ strategic and tactical genius finally became apparent. His pair of early summer victories over Bavaria in 1822 kept any military support from crossing the Isar, let alone reaching Vienna. When Clausewitz marched triumphantly into Munchen that July, it had the added impact of convincing any other Anti-Prussian forces inside the HRE from supporting the apparently failing Austrian cause. Bavaria would only be relieved from enemy occupation much later in the war in 1826, and with the help of French, not Austrian troops. Afterwards, the reformed Bavarian army would contribute sizeable forces to the war effort, assisting the French armies under Grouchy in their German campaigns against Prussia.

Accepting the Doppeladler

As the 9 Years’ War was coming to an end and the Quadruple Alliance of France and Austria had finally seized the day, it seemed as though Bavaria was increasingly favouring diplomacy with France to the detriment of Vienna. Bavaria’s first minister, Maximilian von Montgelas, was a known francophile and likely contributed to this diplomatic evolution. To his disappointment however, the HRE mediatisation (1832) that followed the 9 Years’ War reaffirmed Austria’s primacy in Bavarian affairs. Montgelas was sacked and Bavaria’s short-lived initiative at diplomatic double-play ended. Territorially, Bavaria benefitted from the Mediatisation, having almost doubled its core territory, but losing its Rhineland-Palatinate holdings. Perhaps as punishment for attempting to leave Austria’s orbit, the Kaiser maintained the independence of the Free City of Nurnberg and elevated it to special rank, reinstating the old tradition of holding the HRE’s Reichsrat there.

From 1825 until his death in 1868, Bavaria was ruled by prince-elector Ludwig I. He presided over a period of renewal and progress for Bavaria, as he acquiesced to Austria’s pretensions of hegemony and focused on culture, the fine arts, and bringing the Industrial Revolution to Bavaria. In 1835, the Bavarian Ludwigseisenbahn was the first railway to be built and enter service in the German space, connecting Nurnberg, Ingolstadt, Augsburg and finally the capital, Munchen. Factories started sprawling around Munchen and special economic arrangements were made with Nurnberg to ensure Bavaria’s primacy in its market. Within the Zollverein, the HRE’s Economic Union, Bavaria quickly became the 3rd largest economy, albeit at a great distance from the two great powers, Austria and Prussia. Relations with France remained generally friendly, as the Franco-Austrian alliance of the 9 Years’ War had been formalised into a permanent pact to safeguard against Prussian expansionism and British interference in European affairs. In 1848, the Bavarian Royal Army sent a small contingent to assist Austria against Kossuth’s Hungarian insurrection. Bavaria once again assisted Austria militarily in 1867, when the Austro-Prussian War began. Bavarian troops acquitted themselves well generally, but were on numerous occasions routed by numerically inferior Prussian formations.

Adapting to the New World

Having outlived his son, Maximilian II, Ludwig I was succeeded by his nephew Ludwig II. The new prince-elector quickly became notorious for his outlandish spending on grandiose architectural projects and sponsorship of the arts, at times even indulging heavily in the state treasury funds. Bavaria nevertheless continued developing economically, with it being a net beneficiary of Prussia’s constant downfall within the HRE. At the same time, seeing how already for two generations of rulers Bavaria had stopped attempting to distance itself from Austrian influence, Vienna became increasingly friendly towards the electorate by the end of the 19th century it had developed an unofficial “most favoured” status towards Bavaria, with many economic and military links being established. In terms of its politics, as with the rest of the HRE, the 1878 Prussian Revolution had strong reverberations in Munchen and throughout Bavaria. Prince Ludwig II outright banned Freieist and other Illuminist clubs from operating and deemed their literature illegal on the electorate’s territory.

This was a heavy blow to Bavarian liberalism, which had one of the earliest foundations within the German space. Nevertheless, the ban did not kill those currents it only forced them to go underground. The Illuminati, one of the oldest such secret societies in Bavaria, would go on to become more influential both within the electorate and in Germany in general. Their proposed political philosophy has been termed “Minervism”, after the Owl of Minerva which they chose as their symbol. Among others, they call for a radical separation of church and state, advocating the total declericalization of the nation. They see organized religion and its influence on the state as the primary enemy of modernity, the revolution, and democracy. For the sake of the revolution, they argue, a Cult of Reason should be introduced, replacing old religions and the institutions of the Ancien Regime, and thus bring about a true enlightened society.

However, for each action there is a reaction. Capitalising on the panic created by the Prussian Revolution and the subsequent Terrorherrschaft of the 1880s, the clerical institutions and absolutist proponents of Bavaria once again rallied to exert their influence over the electorate. The “Ultramontanist” faction, calling for total alignment with the Holy See, greatly strengthened its power by riding the wave of consternation towards Prussia’s dismantling of its churches, both Catholic and Protestant. Through aggressive information campaigns, any and all liberalism became equated with the strongest of Prussian radicalisms. Ludwig II finally took steps towards quenching their influence only when ecclesiastical authorities started threatening his own sovereignty. As a means of reigning them in, Ludwig re-legalised liberal associations and publications in 1888, but specifically excluded the Illuminati from the decree.

As Bavaria entered the 20th century, it had closed in the distance to Prussia in terms of economic power and influence in the HRE, being a close 3rd behind the radical republic. The 1878 Revolution threw Prussia into complete chaos, and it took it more than a decade after the end of the terror years for it to restabilize. In the meanwhile, Bavaria had continuously grown, thanks both to Prussia’s new status as a pariah in the HRE and Austria’s increasing support. The 1914 Freieist Uprising in Saxony prompted another wave of hysteria across the HRE, and newly-crowned prince Ludwig III re-issued the ban on all political clubs and “radical” publications. Under strongly-worded Austrian “recommendations”, this ban has remained in force up until 1933. This has prompted the emergence of numerous underground cells of republican groupings. Chief amongst them are the now-centuries old Illuminati, whose secrecy and intricate initiations have made them somewhat of a mythical existence the Bavarian Freieists - the principal Freieist movement in the southern parts of the HRE, taking direct inspiration from their Prussian counterparts, and lastly the Bavarian Communists, the smallest of the groups but constantly growing, not least thanks to the support coming from Liebknecht’s Socialist Party in Prussia.

National Future or Regional Retrenchment?

Finally, one more important issue is looming above Bavaria as it enters 1933: pan-German sentiment is becoming widespread across the space of the HRE, and there are increasing calls from across the political spectre for the creation of a German nation-state. In Bavaria, this phenomenon has been slightly less pronounced than in the other fiefdoms of the Empire, and definitely not as strong or approved-of as in revolutionary Prussia.

However, in the eyes of Vienna, the relationship with Bavaria has recently become a lot more important. Some commentators believe that Austria intends to “groom” the Electorate of Bavaria into a potential leader of a German national federation a German nation led by a friendly, Catholic and monarchical regime. The situation in the field is rather different, however. Many in Bavaria are still apathetic towards the cause of pan-Germanism, as they are one of the more well-off states of the HRE and would rather remain so. At the same time, Bavaria has a strong regional identity and long history of independence. The future of Bavaria is at a crossroads: will it continue on the path of status quo, hoping that the HRE and the monarchic order will endure? Or will it embrace the doctrines of the new age, thus radically changing its identity?

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. The emergence of the nation has been understood in very different ways at different times. Humanist scholars of the early sixteenth century initiated a discourse about the German nation by identifying contemporaneous populations as descendants of ancient Germanic peoples, as they were represented in the writings of Roman authors such as Julius Caesar (100–44 B.C.E. ) and Cornelius Tacitus (c. 55–c.116 C.E. ), author of the famous work Germania. From the viewpoint of Ulrich von Hutten (1488–1523), among others, Tacitus provided insight into the origins and character of a virtuous nation that was in many ways equal or superior to Rome. The German humanists found their hero in Armin, or Hermann, who defeated the Romans in the battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 C.E.

The interest of German intellectuals in their ancient predecessors, as depicted in the literature of classical antiquity, continued into the eighteenth century, when it inspired the patriotic poetry of Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (1724–1803) and of the members of a group of poets called the Göttinger Hain , founded in 1772. The twentieth century scholar, Norbert Elias, has shown that the attention that bourgeois Germans of the eighteenth century devoted to the origins and the virtuous character of their nation was motivated in large part by their rejection of powerful aristocrats and courtiers, who modeled themselves on French counterparts.

On the eve of the French Revolution (1789), Germany was divided into nearly three hundred separate political entities of various sizes and with various degrees of sovereignty within the Holy Roman Empire. By 1794, French troops had taken the west bank of the Rhine, which had previously been divided among many different principalities by 1806, Napoléon Bonaparte (1769–1821) had disbanded the Holy Roman Empire. In the same year, Napoléon's armies defeated Prussia and its allies in the simultaneous battles of Jena and Auerstädt. In its modern form, German nationalism took shape in response to this defeat. In the War of Liberation (1813–1815), in which many patriots participated as volunteers, the allied forces under Prussian leadership were successful in expelling the French from Germany. After the Congress of Vienna (1815), however, those who had hoped for the founding of a German nation-state were disappointed, as the dynastic rulers of the German territories reasserted their political authority.

With the rise of historical scholarship in the first half of the nineteenth century, the earlier emphasis on German antiquity was supplemented by representations of the medieval origins of the German nation. In the age of nationalism, when the nation-state was understood as the end point of a law-like historical development, German historians sought to explain why Germany, in contrast to France and England, was still divided. They believed that they had discovered the answer to this puzzle in the history of the medieval Reich. Shortly after the death of Charlemagne (814), the Carolingian empire split into a western, a middle, and an eastern kingdom. In the teleological view of the nineteenth century historians, the western kingdom became France and the eastern kingdom was destined to become Germany the middle kingdom was subdivided and remained a bone of contention between the two emerging nations. The tenth century German king, Otto I, led a series of expeditions to Rome and was crowned as emperor by the pope in 962. From this point forward, Germany and the medieval version of the Roman Empire were linked.

German historians of the nineteenth century interpreted the medieval Reich as the beginning of a process that should have led to the founding of a German nation-state. The medieval emperor was viewed as the major proponent of this national development, but modern historians often criticized the actual behavior of the emperors as being inconsistent with national aims. The main villains of medieval history, at least in the eyes of latter-day historians—especially Protestants—were the various popes and those German princes who allied themselves with the popes against the emperor for reasons that were deemed to be "egotistical." This opposition of the pope and the princes was thought to have stifled the proper development of the German nation. The high point in this development was, the nationalist historians believed, the era of the Hohenstaufen emperors (1138–1254). The Hohenstaufen emperor Frederick I was rendered in nineteenth century historiography as a great hero of the German cause. After his reign, however, the empire suffered a series of setbacks and entered into a long period of decline. The early Habsburgs offered some hope to latter-day historians, but their successors were thought to have pursued purely dynastic interests. The low point in the national saga came in the Thirty Years War (1618–1648), when foreign and domestic enemies ravaged Germany.

Among the educated bourgeoisie and the popular classes of nineteenth century Germany, the desire for a renewal of the German Reich was widespread but there was much disagreement about exactly how this new state should be structured. The main conflict was between those favoring a grossdeutsch solution to German unification, that is, a "large Germany" under Austrian leadership, and those favoring a kleindeutsch solution, that is, a "small Germany" under Prussian leadership and excluding Austria. The second option was realized after Prussia won a series of wars, defeating Denmark in 1864, Austria in 1866, and France in 1871. In the writings of the Prussian school of national history, Prussia's victory and the founding of the German Reich in 1871 were depicted as the realization of the plans of the medieval emperor, Frederick I. After the founding of the Reich, Germany pursued expansionist policies, both overseas and in the territories on its eastern border. Defeat in World War I led to widespread resentment against the conditions of the Versailles Treaty, which many Germans thought to be unfair, and against the founders of the Weimar Republic, who many Germans viewed as traitors or collaborators. Adolf Hitler, the leader of the National Socialist (Nazi) movement, was able to exploit popular resentment and widespread desires for national greatness. National Socialist propagandists built upon beliefs in the antiquity and continuity of the German nation, augmenting them with racialist theories, which attributed to the Germans a biological superiority over other peoples.

National Identity. Following World War II, German national identity became problematic, since the national movement seemed to have culminated in the Third Reich and found its most extreme expression in the murder of millions of people, including six million Jews. All further reflection on the German nation had to come to grips with this issue in one way or another. There have been many different attempts to explain Nazism and its crimes. Some see Adolf Hitler and his cronies as villains who misled the German people. Others blame Nazism on a flaw in the German national character. Still others see the beginning of Germany's problems in the rejection of the rational and universal principles of the Enlightenment and the adoption of romantic irrationalism. Marxist scholars see Nazism as a form of fascism, which they describe as the form that capitalism takes under certain historical conditions. Finally, some cite the failure of the bourgeois revolution in the nineteenth century and the lingering power of feudal elites as the main cause. Interpretations of this sort fall under the general heading of Vergangenheitsbewältigung, or coming to terms with the past. Since the fall of the GDR, West German traditions of coming to terms with the past have been extended to the period of socialist rule in East Germany. Some Germans emphasize the similarities between the two forms of dictatorship, National Socialist and communist, while others, especially many East Germans, view the Third Reich and the GDR as being essentially dissimilar. Lingering differences between the attitudes and practices of West and East Germans are often attributed to the so-called Mauer in den Köpfen, or wall in the mind— an allusion to the physical wall that used to divide East and West Germany.

In recent years, German nationalism has been reexamined in accordance with views of the nation as an "imagined community" which is based on "invented traditions." Most scholars have concentrated on the organization, the symbolism, and the discourse of the national movement as it developed in the nineteenth century. The most significant contributions to the imagination and the invention of the German nation in this era took place in the context of (1) a set of typical voluntary associations, which supposedly harkened back to old local, regional, or national traditions (2) the series of monuments erected by state governments, by towns and cities, and by citizens' groups throughout Germany and (3) the various representations of history, some of which have been alluded to above. In addition, there is a growing body of literature that examines understandings of the nation and the politics of nationhood in the eighteenth century. There is much disagreement on the political implications of the critical history of nationalism in Germany. Some scholars seem to want to exorcize the deviant aspects of modern German nationalism, while retaining those aspects, with which, in their view, German citizens should identify. Others see nationalism as an especially dangerous stage in a developmental process, which Germans, in their journey toward a postnational society, should leave behind.

Ethnic Relations. The framers of the Grundgesetz (Basic Law or Constitution) of the Federal Republic of Germany adopted older laws that define citizenship according to the principle of jus sanguinis, that is birth to German parents (literally, law of blood). For this reason, many people born outside of Germany are considered to be German, while many people born in Germany are not. Since the 1960s, the country has admitted millions of migrant workers, who have, in fact, played an indispensable role in the economy. Although migrant workers from Turkey, Yugoslavia, Italy, Greece, Spain, and Portugal were called Gastarbeiter (literally, guest workers), many stayed in Germany and established families. They form communities, which are to varying degrees assimilated to German lifestyles. Indeed, many of the children and grandchildren of immigrant laborers regard themselves not as Turkish, Greek, or Portuguese, but as German. Nevertheless, they have had great difficulty in gaining German citizenship and many Germans view them as Ausländer, or foreigners. Beginning in the year 2000, new laws granted restricted rights of dual citizenship to children of foreign descent who are born in Germany. This new legislation has been accompanied by intensified discussion about Germany's status as a land of immigration. All major political parties now agree that Germany is and should be a land of immigration, but they differ on many aspects of immigration policy.



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

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

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

In 1618, the Hohenzollerns inherited the Duchy of Prussia, a fief of Poland it was ruled in a personal union with Brandenburg, known as "Brandenburg-Prussia". In the course of the Second Northern War, the treaties of Labiau and Wehlau-Bromberg granted the Hohenzollerns full sovereignty over the Prussian duchy by September of 1657.

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

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

The Great Northern War: 1700–1721

The Great Northern War was the first major conflict that the new Kingdom of Prussia was involved in. Starting in 1700, the Great Northern War involved a coalition led by Tsarist Russia against the dominant European power at the time, the Swedish Empire. Frederick William in 1705 tried to get Prussia involved in the war, stating "best Prussia has her own army and make her own decisions." [13] However his views were not considered acceptable by those in power. It was not until 1713 that Frederick William gained full royal powers. [13] Therefore, in 1715, Prussia, led by Frederick William, joined the coalition for various reasons, [13] including the danger of being attacked from both her rear and the sea, her claims on Pomerania and the fact that if she stood aside and Sweden lost she would not get a share of the territory. [3] [13] Prussia only participated in one single battle during the war, the Battle of Stresow on the island of Rügen. The war had already been practically decided in the 1709 Battle of Poltava. In the Treaty of Stockholm Prussia gained all of Swedish Pomerania east of the river Oder. Sweden would however keep Vorpommern until 1815. The Great Northern War not only marked the end of the Swedish Empire but also elevated Prussia and Russia as new powers in Europe. [14]

1701–1721: Results of the Thirty-Years' War and The Great Northern War

The Kingdom of Prussia was poor in natural resources and devastated from the Thirty Years' War. Its territory was disjointed. It stretched 1,200 km (750 mi): from the lands of the Duchy of Prussia on the south-east coast of the Baltic Sea to the Hohenzollern heartland of Brandenburg, and the exclaves of Cleves, Mark and Ravensberg in the Rhineland. In 1708, about one third of the population of the Duchy of Prussia died of bubonic plague. [15] The plague reached Prenzlau in August 1710, but receded before it could reach the capital Berlin, which was only 80 km (50 mi) away.

Sweden's defeat by Russia, Saxony, Poland, Denmark–Norway, Hanover, and Prussia in the Great Northern War (1700–1721) marked the end of significant Swedish power on the southern shores of the Baltic Sea. In the course of the Pomeranian campaign and by the Prusso-Swedish Treaty of Stockholm (January 1720), Prussia gained southern Swedish Pomerania with Stettin (Szczecin).

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

1740–1760: Silesian Wars

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

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

Humiliated by the cession of Silesia, Austria worked to secure an alliance with France and Russia (the "Diplomatic Revolution"), while Prussia drifted into Great Britain's camp forming the Anglo-Prussian Alliance. When Frederick preemptively invaded Saxony and Bohemia over the course of a few months in 1756–1757, he initiated the Seven Years' War which might also be considered the first world war since it was fought in the three continents (France and Great Britain's colonies).

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

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

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

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

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

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

1801–1815: Napoleonic Wars

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

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

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

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

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

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

1815: After Napoleon

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

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

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

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

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

1848–1871: German wars of unification

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Important Historical European Culture Changes

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Second Lieutenant

Firstly, I'm not sure how historical accuracy vs gameplay balance are prioritized, but I've never been too happy with how culture has been handled in this game. With the new cultural acceptance changes, some of these solutions could be more easily implemented. Pardon me for the crappy formatting and funny maps.
I'll ignore some of the sillier things like splintered Russian cultures, Karelian being East Slavic (it's not and definitely wasn't in 1444), and Turkish being related to the Arabic cultures (culturally it would be more similar to Islamized Greeks and pre-Greek Anatolians speaking Turkish with a smattering, maybe up to 40%, of actual Turks, no?).

Now I'll go on to detail some of the glaring issues in my favourite region: Poland, with some possible solutions. Please note that I'm not considering much-needed province border changes, this is assuming they are unchanged. I'll use Wikipedia for sources as the reader and devs can use it as a staging point for the references and further reading, as this is a lot of material to cover, and it's generally accurate (more accurate than portrayed in the game, for sure). Right now the West Slavic culture group is unnecessarily weak, historically inaccurate, and underrepresented, so here are my suggestions to improve it.

And finally, some minor culture corrections in Western Europe. Not gonna go over it in too much detail, as it can easily be Googled and verified and I'm sure posters here will supplement it. The majority of the population in Greater Luxembourg was concentrated in the city, which had a German population. Nantes had been taken over by Frogs, and Savoy ist nicht Italien. Though Arpitan is an anachronous label, a distinct culture existed in these provinces that was neither Burgundian, Occitan, or Italian. Also, Swiss German is a Swabian dialect, but I'm sure that doesn't matter too much, but I'm not sure in 1444 whether they were too culturally distinct or not. Frisian culture obviously still had a foothold in the Frisias and in a certain province in western Holstein that will be added in the next patch.

TLDR:See my clumsy sketches.

Another thing which inspired me to post here is when Poland conquers Neumark it should be renamed after the formerly Polish Santok fortress, and Sternberg should correctly be renamed Lubusz when conquered, as that's where the historical region of Lubusz land is located (not in Neumark) centred on the now-German city of Lebus (Lubusz). Also, why are there no dynamic Polish names for Upper and Lower Lusatia? It shouldn't default to German, especially since they're closely related to the Sorbs and now the Czechs have dynamic province naming. I hope this gets some attention and feedback and if necessary, corrections seeing the historical inaccuracies in my favourite region (central-eastern Europe) ingame jars me, and again, sorry for the poor formatting. Also pl0x gib Armenian culture the province south of Trebizond.

As an addendum, my French friend asked me to request that Lothringen be natively renamed to Lorraine, as that's the French and English name of the province and it was ruled and inhabited by French people. Lothringen should be the dynamic German name, but Lorraine is the native French name.

Please read the replies for some corrections and feedback, I'm not an expert ^^

The Shortest History of Germany

A revisionist history at odds with everything else I&aposve read. This is not a history, it is a thesis that boils down to an evil race of East Germans that are hell bent on destroying the world for the last 150 years. It&aposs mainly supported with dog whistle factoids, deliberate misinterpretations and outright falsehoods. Either the author has been paid to deliberately write this argument or he is congenitally dishonest.

It&aposs well written and easily consumed, the first 1500 years are gobbled up and it A revisionist history at odds with everything else I've read. This is not a history, it is a thesis that boils down to an evil race of East Germans that are hell bent on destroying the world for the last 150 years. It's mainly supported with dog whistle factoids, deliberate misinterpretations and outright falsehoods. Either the author has been paid to deliberately write this argument or he is congenitally dishonest.

It's well written and easily consumed, the first 1500 years are gobbled up and its tone and invective change with subtlety and at first for me imperceptibly. My reading list is in my profile so the basis of my objections can be found there. Outrage and doubt arrived when I read the following which is presented prior to the criticism of this (apparently) very poor idea "Schools were to be taken out of church control, civil marriages allowed and priests forbidden from engaging in anything that could be termed political [opposition]" attributed to Bismarcks Prussia about 100 years after the US constitution enshrined church and state separation.

I wondered who on earth writing a history book today would object to this? Before reading on I checked the authors bio to discover he thought in an Irish seminary university and this and the rest of the book came into focus.

He claims the Catholic Church deported itself well during the holocaust because 1 German cardinal was under house arrest despite almost total papal silence excepting even more damning luke warm nuanced protestations made far too late. No mention that Catholic Austrians were disproportionately represented in the SS or that of 18,000,000 who served in the Wehrmacht less that a 100 were cited for bravery after the war for protecting war crimes victims (see The Pianist movie for almost the only case). Ludicrously he declares that Prussians were the first to give a legal basis to antisemitism. A total lie, state legal antisemitism dates back thousands of years before its zenith of Hitler approved death camps operated by an enthusiastic SS and compliant greedy and shameful European populations. Legalised antisemitism continues today in states such as Iran. Lying about the bigotry Jews suffered throughout the world up to and beyond the holocaust to make your ridiculous thesis gain weight is a disgraceful trivialisation of history and insulting to Jewish people all over the world and to tens of millions of Germans that accept the facts and try to atone in their own way for the sins of that generation. Tony Judt's Postwar has I think an unrivalled essay at the end of the book about antisemitism which the author here would do well to read.

His current thoughts (not history in any way) about refugees follow the same racist pattern. No suggestion about what to do for the hopeless only to not allow them here. Hardly a philosophy Jesus Christ would support. Europe spends $75bn on refugees that arrive in Europe each year and $5bn on programs to encourage them to remain close to home, that should change and the problem any way is not A Prussian plot as this ignominious fool would have you believe. I hope a scholarly dissection of this crap takes place before to many buy it. I'll give the author a $1000 for every thing I'm incorrect about if he'll just give me my money back if I categorically show where he is lying, I'll leave out that Eva Hitler poisoned herself and was not shot by Adolf Hitler as stated in his book.

In summary dangerous appalling rubbish, handle with care only read if already in possession of the main facts. . more

If anyone is kind enough to read this review I think it only fair to state the following: I am not religious. I speak German. I have lived and worked in Germany and managed German companies in the UK, Africa and Central Asia. I do not claim to be an expert, but do have sufficient knowledge both of history and current affairs to justify this review.

This is not a history, rather a propaganda exercise and, for anyone who knows anything of German and European h If anyone is kind enough to read this review I think it only fair to state the following: I am not religious. I speak German. I have lived and worked in Germany and managed German companies in the UK, Africa and Central Asia. I do not claim to be an expert, but do have sufficient knowledge both of history and current affairs to justify this review.

This is not a history, rather a propaganda exercise and, for anyone who knows anything of German and European history, it is dangerously silly. The author James Hawes is a fanatical EU integrationist and that colours this polemic. In a nutshell Hawes idea (one cannot dignify it with the term 'theory') is that Germany is Roman Catholic and good and Prussia is protestant and bad and when the latter took over the former it made the whole atrocious.

According to Hawes the Franks under Karl der Grosse (Charlemagne) inherited the Roman Empire's goodness and unifying vision. He ignores the fact that the Franks were one of many tribes that occupied much of Europe and spoke a number of Indo-Germanic languages. Charlemagne was a Christian and decided everyone in his empire must be too, imposing the death penalty on those (especially Saxons) who refused to convert. On his death, the Carolingian Empire split into three. The west Franks adopted a Latin dialect and became French. Middle Francia included parts of the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. East Francia included the rest of Germany. Eventually east and middle Francia minus Burgundy, Switzerland and parts of northern Italy became the Holy Roman Empire (HRE). Hawes would have us believe that the HRE was a coherent political unit. Voltaire summed it up rather better when he remarked that, “it was neither holy, nor Roman, nor really an Empire.” Indeed, it was a geographical area consisting, at the end, of some 1,800 states of varying sizes recognising the HRE as their titular head.

Hawes makes much of the HRE being geographically similar to the Roman province 'Germania'. Apparently, all was well in the Carolingian world until efforts were made to expand east of the Elbe river (For this part of Europe and Germany he invents the term East Elbia a dark place inhabited by - shock horror - Slavs and Prussians!) Prussia is named after its original Slavic inhabitants, but following its 13th century conquest by the catholic Teutonic Knights it was 'Germanised' by immigration from central and western Germany.

In order to justify his risible 'Catholic good Protestants bad' idea he ignores the 30 years war started by Ferdinand II, HRE 1619-1637, who decided to force protestant member states to become catholic. The result was a war that cost millions of lives, in some areas a population loss of 50%. Also, at this time, in catholic areas, there were hysterical witch hunts. The worst were those of Trier where the Catholic Archbishop/Prince Elector Johann von Schoenberg was a man with a mission. First he purged Protestants, then Jews and then witches and an estimated 1,000 men, woman and children convicted of witchcraft were burned by his order. In all over 40,000 people died.

We are whizzed through centuries with the same disregard for history although he pauses to blame Britain for giving Prussia the Rhineland in 1815 thus making it stronger. (The Rhineland states were part of the Confederation of the Rhine a grouping of most of the German states allied to France during the Napoleonic wars. Part of the confederation was ceded to Prussia and became the Rhine Province in 1822). Little mention is made of the ‘Zoll Union’ = ‘Customs union’ created by Bismarck to which all the German states, except Austria, belonged. Bismarck saw it as the means to 'Unify' Germany. He engineered a war with France and when that was over the members woke to find themselves members of an Empire with a new boss. Oddly only Luxembourg escaped joining it. The lesson was, however, well learned. In 1952 Jean Monet (a founding father of the EU) wrote, "Europe's nations should be guided towards the superstate without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps, each disguised as having an economic purpose, but which will eventually and irreversibly lead to federation."

Lets skip to the Nazis. They were (you guessed) East Elbian protestant monsters who had almost zero support from the good burgers of Germania. Blithely ignoring Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen and Dachau (to name just three) he claims the Nazis had to wait until they got to Poland before creating concentration camps. They would not be tolerated in Germania. Writing on page 180, "But T4 had shown the Nazis that, even in wartime, they couldn't just start killing people wholesale in Germany." (T4 was a program to 'put down' mentally ill people - mostly Germans).

At the end of WW2, Germania now separated from East Elbia by the Iron curtain could at last take its place as a truly democratic western nation. Except….Konrad Adenauer did not trust the Germans and wanted West Germany integrated with the west to stop them repeating their past. To aid the process two former Nazis advisors, Ludwig Erhard (Later Chancellor of West Germany) and Karl Blessing (Later president of the Bundesbank) dusted off the plan they had developed for Hitler's post victory nation. The plan was simple. Replace the Reichsmark with the Deutsch Mark at a rate of 15 to one for the people (so they all went bust) and 1 to 1 for industry who had benefited from slave labour. Marshal aid poured in and finally all Germany's debts were written off. Erhard was pleased with everything opining that poverty would make the common man work harder!

Post war the EEC, then the EU and the Euro. Like Adenauer, Kohl did not trust Germans and saw tying them into a currency union as an insurance against resurgent bad habits. People who demanded a democratic vote were told they were too dumb to understand the issues. Quite why dumb people are brainy enough to pick people who can decide was never asked. Since the Euro, Germany has powered ahead financially and no one doubts that EU decisions are made in Berlin. Although vehemently denied by the Germans, the IMF, amongst others, have variously put the benefit for Germany of using an undervalued currency at between 10 and 17 %. Most telling, in 2012 the Bundesbank estimated that a return to the DM (proper value) would involve the loss of 5 million jobs and a drop of 10% in GDP.

Many countries have elements in their history that today’s generations regret, Germany more than most. I do not accept that the only way to deal with that is to punish others. If German leaders don't trust their own people it’s time to get new leaders. The idea that other nations should lose industry and face terrible unemployment in order to prevent German resurgence is ridiculous. The EU in particular and the world in general being locked into an unending payment of Dane Geld is surely a certain recipe for bitterness and strife? It may strike Dawes as a brilliant result, but to use a German word, I'm afraid the Untermenschen may not put up with it. Rewarding Flashman with the headmastership of Rugby was never an option and the post war settlement lauded by Hawes is as bizarre as that would have been.

In his other writings Hawes displays the sneering arrogance typical of the self appointed intelligentsia that dislikes Anglo Saxons, especially British ones. In his book Hawes observes that the German word 'Untergang' = ‘Humiliating defeat' has no equivalent in English. He could have more usefully asked why the word 'Fair' has no German equivalent. One can but hope they will find one in my experience the concept is understood even if it is expressed in English.

This is a squalid little book, but it does raise two interesting questions. 1) Are University degrees useful indicators of intelligence? 2) The book has been review praised in serious journals, one wonders if that was the result of anyone actually reading it? . more

Something that should be said from the start: Hawes is not a historian, his work was not endorsed by historians, and it falls behind even the normally low standards of history books written for the general public. It&aposs barely referenced, lacks a bibliography, and omits facts if they don&apost fit into the author&aposs general argument.

I had one encounter with Hawes before, and it left me intrigued. In September 2017, he wrote an article in the New Statesman in which he explained the then-upcoming Germa Something that should be said from the start: Hawes is not a historian, his work was not endorsed by historians, and it falls behind even the normally low standards of history books written for the general public. It's barely referenced, lacks a bibliography, and omits facts if they don't fit into the author's general argument.

I had one encounter with Hawes before, and it left me intrigued. In September 2017, he wrote an article in the New Statesman in which he explained the then-upcoming German election and the possible rise of the AfD in terms of ancient divisions in Germany. I disagreed with his argument from the start, but it was a bold and well-written article. Maybe this is why I am so disappointed with this book. I expected so much more.

At the very least I expected a proper history book, since it's been branded and sold as such, but what I got instead is a very dubious and confusing demonology manual, complete with fact omissions, logical fallacies, and vague, poor-quality maps that help hide the weakness of the author's argument. Said argument boils down to this: there is something rotten in East Elbia. This apparently doesn't change from Roman times to present, despite the fact that actually many changes happened there, including major population shifts. No, the evilness of East Elbia remains the same across history, and all that has the misfortune to exist there, be it non-Latinized German tribes, Slavs, or Prussians, is equally unworthy of and incapable of assimiliting into Roman/Western culture. Among what I regard as Hawes' most questionable points within this thesis are the following:

- Dismissing the Hussite rebellion in Bohemia as a mere 'Slav pushback' against German domination, and claiming that it was actually just another aspect of the 'ancient' German-Slavic conflict beyond the Elbe. It's safe to say that this is not the point of view of the majority of historiography on the subject

- The whole idea of an ancient, everlasting German-Slav struggle in Eastern Europe, which comes up again and again throughout the book. According to Hawes, Germany lost both world wars because Prussia (or the Prussian elite) were so blinded by this struggle. This is so wrong, so propagandistic and so scary that I can't even comprehend how it got printed in 2018

- Dismissing Luther as a mere populist, and his brand of Protestantism as something that will poison Germany forever. While yes, Luther was something of a populist (this becomes very clear if you look at how different his points of view were from those of liberal contemporaries like Erasmus), dismissing the effect his legitimate criticism of the Catholic Church had on Christinity everywhere is absurd. Dismissing Protestantism as a whole because Protestant areas of Germany voted more heavily for Hitler than Catholic areas is equally absurd. It becomes even more ridiculous when Hawes says nonsense like "Berlin is closer to (Catholic) Warsaw and (Orthodox) Moscow than (virtually Protestant) Washington or (Protestant) London". He clearly means to convey that Prussia is far away from the West therefore barbaric and bad, but his own argument that Catholicism = good / Protestantism = bad makes his point absolutely moot. if all of this sounds confusing, that's because it is. Hawes is so busy dismissing everything to do with 'East Elbia' (from location to religion) that he becomes incoherent

- Painting Otto von Bismarck as a warmongering evil man who manipulated the whole of Europe into believing that his version of Germany is the real one. Bismarck was in fact an able statesman both abroad (he managed to create the first modern Germany that worked) and at home (where he created things like history's first modern welfare state). After he unified his country, he became very dedicated to maintaing the balance of power (hence peace) between powers in Europe, which is why I have no idea why Hawes is convinced Bismarck was particularly intent on war. Hawes even goes so far as to attack Bismarck's decision to support Austria-Hungary against the Russian Empire's ambitions in the Balkans, seeing it not as the balance-of-power-maintaing effort that it was, but as a decision based on the 'ancient' German-Slav conflict, which subconsciously influenced Prussian Bismarck, according to Hawes. He (even more ridiculously) has a go at Bismarck for the secularization campaigns in Germany known as Kulturkampf (these actually happened in several other European states, which Hawes neglects to mention). These were apparently so terrible that they traumatized the country's Catholic politicians forever, to the point where they helped Hitler gain a majority in the Reichstag. I kid you not, here's the quote from pp169-170: "The Centre Party decides, after agonised debate, that if it votes against a 51.9% national mandate, Germany's Catholics will be cast once again as traitors to the will of the people, and suffer a vicious new Kulturkampf. Hitler gets his super-majority, and democracy in Germany ends."

- Claiming that Prussia was a more or less artificial state created and supported by 'Slavs' (created under the Polish crown, supported by Russia at one point etc), hence it's terrible influence on the actual Germany. Hawes never mentions the fact that 'the Slavs' were in most cases very modern by contemporary standards (Hus in what would be today's Czech Republic preceded Luther the Polish-Lithunian Commonwealth had a constitutional monarchy, high levels of diversity and religious tolerance) and can therefore not take the blame for Prussia's unfortunate character

I could go on forever, but I think I've proven my point. This book is a mess highlighting very little of that bold argument I glimpsed in the New Statesman article, and a lot of the author's prejudices and biases. . more


Historians have long marked the importance of Peter the Great's reign in Russian history. Peter came of age in a vast but technologically and socially backward country. Upon taking control of Russia in 1682, the tsar energetically redressed every aspect of Russian government, society, and military to more closely match its western neighbors. He fought expansive wars against his neighbors, squeezing every resource at his disposal to power his war machine, and send large numbers of young men west, to learn the trades and skills that Russia would need in the future. Peter founded a new Russia by shattering the old, and by his death in 1725 Russia had taken Sweden's place as Europe's dominant eastern power. [1] [2]

The epoch of Russian history that Peter created has been variously known as the Imperial Age, because of the new connection between the ruler and land the St. Petersburg Era, as the capital was moved to the newly built Saint Petersburg during his reign and the All-Russian Period, which stresses the greater hegemony founded in the previously xenophobic country. The period from the time of his rule to the October Revolution (and dissolution of the Russian Empire) in 1917 is also sometimes called the Petrine era, in tribute to his importance. However, the Russian Empire proper was not founded until Peter took the title of imperator (emperor), at the end of the Great Northern War. [1] [2]

Early years and accession to the throne Edit

Peter the Great was born on June 9, 1672, to Tsar Alexis I and his second wife Natalia Naryshkina. The tsar had more than 14 children between the two marriages, but only three of the males, Feodor and Ivan by his first marriage and Peter by his second, survived into adulthood. Peter was considerably more healthy then his half-brothers, both of which had serious physical disabilities. Peter's father died in 1676, and Feodor, the late ruler's oldest son, was proclaimed tsar. When Feodor, in turn, died in 1682, he left no heir to the throne. With no clear path for succession, the two most prominent boyar families, the Naryshkins and the Miloslavsky, backed different heirs in a competition for the throne. The Naryshkins, backing Peter, won an early victory, and Peter was proclaimed tsar in April 1682, with his mother as the acting regent. However, in May, Peter's able-bodied half-sister Sophia, leading a Miloslavsky-backed rebellion by the streltsy, overtook the throne and killed many of the leading members of the Naryshkin family, the murders of whom Peter witnessed. In the aftermath, Ivan was proclaimed the senior tsar, and Peter the junior tsar, and Sophia the regent. In reality, Sophia took absolute power as an autocrat, shoving her half-brothers away from power. [3] [4]

As a child, Peter, though intelligent, was neither an intellectual nor particularly refined. Physically able and possessing manic levels of energy, he turned his attention towards working with his hands. In particular, Peter found interest in seamanship and in military manners. He formed mock troops with his friends, the sons of nobles and servitors, and staged mock battles. As he grew older, these battles became more and more elaborate, including organized units, formations, and even live ammunition. Once they became adults, the boys with whom Peter staged the fights would become his commanders and closest military advisers, eventually forming the core of Russia's first two elite guard units, the Preobrazhensky and Semenovsky regiments. These two regiments contained the core of the Russian nobility, and became training grounds for young nobles, who served as rank-and-file soldiers to learn military life before becoming officers elsewhere. [5] [6]

As Peter grew older, Sophia realized the insecurity of her throne in the face of a fledging male heir. In 1689, she incited her supporters in the streltsy to rebel again and put her firmly in power again. Frightened by rumors of a plot, Peter fled Moscow. In the critical days that followed, the patriarch and many of the boyars and gentry rallied behind him. Most of the streltsy wavered and took no action, and Sophia was forced, peacefully, off the throne. Thus, in August 1689, he was acknowledged as the effective ruler of Russia. However, at the age of 17, he still had little interest in military manners, and passed on his rule to his mother, Natalya Naryshkina. It was not until her death in 1694 that Peter finally assumed control of the state. [3] [7]

Early rule and military reforms Edit

Peter personally studied soldiers and sailors from the bottom up, serving in the rank and file before promoting himself into the officer corps. Thus, Peter did not become a full general until after his victory at Poltava in 1709, and did not become full admiral until the conclusion of the Great Northern War more than a decade later. As early as 1694, he established a dockyard in Archangel and built an entire ship by himself. Russia suffered from an acute lack of expertise, a problem Peter mitigated by going to the foreign quarters in Moscow there, in a relaxed environment far removed from the throne, he learned the particulars of such things as shipbuilding, navigation, military formation, and the erection of fortifications. Peter wanted to be everywhere at once, and see everything for himself. Not taking his role as tsar very seriously, he and his noble friends often staged elaborate drinking rituals and other forms of horseplay, displays of personal excess that helped unite his circle of friends through talk and drink. However, at the same time, he could be cruel, not flinching from the application of force to put down rebellions and sometimes beating his own friends if he thought it necessary. [5] [8]

Once he took over the governmental machinery, Peter found a distinct lack of skilled specialists with which to run his government. Never placing much importance in rank or origin, Peter began recruiting skilled specialists out of every corner of the Russian empire, including serfs, foreigners, clergymen, and foreign specialists along with the usual boyars. Thus his administration consisted of men from across the social gamut. Most prominent among them was a one Aleksandr Danilovich Menshikov, a childhood friend from Peter's days with the mock troops. Menshikov was a former stableboy of the lowest rank, and would later rise up and become Peter's most able administrator. As corrupt as he was energetic, Menshikov could be found in every part of the Russian governmental machinery, was under constant surveillance by the Russian court, and often met Peter's cudgel, all the while somehow maintaining his prominent position. [9] [10]

With the head of the Russian governance now firmly in place, Peter began a sweeping modernization of his army. Peter inherited a partially Westernized military, and he sought to consolidate the reforms of his predecessors. Before Peter, Russia had a large, irregular, low-quality army. The army dissolved annually during harvest seasons, and the only regular forces in the Russian army were the streltsy, a formally elite unit that had, by Peter's time, become a hereditary, ill-trained, ill-equipped force that garrisoned in Moscow and played more of a role in politics then in actual fighting. [11]

Peter started by firmly placed the nobility into the officer corps. Drawing on his personal experiences, he made young nobles serve as rank-and-file soldiers before ascending to the officer corps commoners who distinguished themselves could achieve officer rank as well. Peter believed in lifelong servitude to the state, whether it was growing crops or fighting wars. Thus he offered serfs escape from their lifelong servitude on the farm in return for lifelong servitude in the army. Older and disabled veterans were transferred to positions in administration and the reserves, and thus, once they joined, Peter's troops were bound to the army for life. [12]

Peter established new schools and training grounds for the officer elite that was to lead the Russian army, and dispatched large numbers of men abroad to learn under foreign masters. Finding promises of release from serfdom insufficient, Peter began drafting soldiers, starting with a levy calling for 1 man for every 50 households. This levy was repeated an incredible 53 times, drawing 300,000 new soldiers into his army. He grew increasingly adept at pulling manpower out of every available resource, including the clergy and enemy deserters. The resultant Russian army was thus heavily Russian the army was vastly more nationalistic then its European counterparts, which relied heavily on mercenaries. [12]

Peter stressed evolution away from the streltsy and gentry cavalry, although he never discarded it entirely. He introduced a European dress code complete with knee-breeches, tricornes, and long coats. He introduced the flintlock into his army, and his troops were the first to use the bayonet, originally designed for defense, offensively. He also vastly improved and expanded his siege artillery, and later, introduced light artillery. His two elite guard units also functioned as ad hoc police units, having summary powers such as the ability to bring him a transgressive noble or official in chains. What Peter lacked most was specialization he relied on irregular forces such as Cossacks and nomads for the light cavalry roles of scouting, skirmishing, and raiding, as his proper cavalry were exclusively dragoons, which rode on horseback but dismounted in battle and fought on foot. [11] [12]

Siege of Azov, the Grand Embassy, and the Streltsy rebellion Edit

In 1695, Peter conducted his first major operation with his fledgling military. Having assumed control in 1694, Peter inherited the Holy League's war with Turkey. Under Ottoman power, Turkey controlled the area of the Crimean Tatars at the mouth of the Sea of Azov. The Turks and the Russian had been in on-and-off wars since 1568, vying to control the area around the Black Sea. Previous attempts to take the Crimea directly had failed, so Peter opted to lay siege to Turkish-controlled fortress of Azov at the mouth of the river Don. He envisioned a two-part plan first, acting as a diversion, a large cavalry force would move towards Turkish forts on the lower Dnieper. Meanwhile, a smaller infantry force moved down the Don river, laying siege to Azov in the summer of 1695. In a characteristic show of bravado Peter the Great arrived as an artilleryman. [13] [14]

Russian forces first had to take a pair of watchtowers guarding heavy chains restricting Russian movements on the water, during which a successful sortie was launched by the Turks that captured many of the Russian siege engines. The Russians accepted the losses and laid down a steady bombardment onto the fort. However, the fort was constantly receiving supplies by water, and the attrition was hurting Peter's forces more than the Turks. After three months, Peter was forced to withdraw. [13]

Although his first attack on Azov proved to be a farce, Peter was tenacious. He understood that the reason he had lost the first battle was Turkish control of the sea, so Peter commissioned the construction of a large fleet at Voronezh on the upper Don. He worked vigilantly himself, using the shipbuilding skills he had learned earlier in his life to great effect. Thus, he was able to launch a fleet of 30 seagoing vessels and over 1,000 transports north of Azov in April 1696. This fleet accompanied a force of 70,000 infantry, twice that which Peter had brought with him during the first siege, and successfully cut off the flow of Turkish supplies. After a month of attrition, a force of 2,000 cossacks stormed the fort and, although rebuffed, captured part of its outer workings. The Turks, accepting defeat, ceded the fort to the Russians on July 18, 1696. [13] [14]

The events at Azov proved to Peter the value of a sea-borne fleet. Although his predecessors had built primitive fleets on an as-needed basis, the second siege of Azov was their first successful application. Thus, with a need for shipbuilding knowledge and a desire to develop a mighty coalition against the Turks, Peter organized a 250-man expedition for Europe in March 1697. Although Peter traveled incognito as Peter Mikhailov he fooled no one the six-foot eight tsar was literally heads and shoulders above others, although his disguise spared him having to partake in court formalities. He traveled through Sweden, Austria, the Netherlands, Prussia, England, and the Habsburg Empire, enlisting himself as a workman in many different docks and factories across the continent. For 18 months, Peter ingested everything he could about European craftsmanship, especially navigation, as well as European society in general. His trip was stopped short of a planned passage through Italy by news of a streltsy rebellion at home, and Peter rushed back to Russia in 1698, along with 750 foreigners he had recruited for Russian industry. The hoped-for political gains of the embassy turned out to be dubious at best, but the military gains were enormous. [15] [16] [17]

Peter returned to Moscow to find that the rebellion had already been dealt with. He proceeded to interrogate the streltsy, torturing many into revealing that they sympathized with his half-sister and former tsarina Sophia. Thousands of strelets were executed and hung in public, and Sophia, who had been exiled to a monastery near Moscow, was now forced to become a nun. Peter had the bodies of hundreds of streltsy hung outside her window to remind her of the consequences of confronting him. He also ended his marriage with Eudoxia Lopukhina, who sympathized with the streltsy, and forced her to become a nun as well. [13] [15] [17]

Great Northern War Edit

Although Peter's "grand coalition" against the Turks had failed to develop, new political developments quickly brought his military attention to the north. 1697 marked the death of Charles XI, king of Sweden. He left his throne to his 15-year-old son, Charles XII. The king's youth and inexperience, coupled with his holdings of several major Baltic ports, made the Swedish empire a tantalizing target for partition by its neighbors. Following the successful Azov campaign, Peter was still negotiating a peace treaty with the Turks, but even so he was negotiating a coalition with Augustus II of Poland and with the Frederick IV of Denmark. Peter began a round of conscription to fill out his ranks in late 1699, and a start date for the war was agreed upon in early 1700. The plan was to have Poland move on southern Livonia and the Danes attack Swedish allies in Schleswig-Holstein. However, Peter's negotiations with the Turks took him longer than he expected, and so in January 1700 Augustus II declared war on Sweden, followed within a few months by the Danes, with Russia standing on the sidelines. It was not until July of that year that the Treaty of Constantinople was finally signed, preserving Peter's gains in Turkey, and freeing him to make war with Sweden. [18] [19] [20]

Initial losses and the Battle of Narva Edit

By the time Peter became involved, the coalition was already falling apart. Charles XII proved to be an unprecedented military genius and far superior a commander then his foes had expected. With utmost daring, in July 1700 Charles crossed the straits to Denmark with 15,000 men, carrying the fighting into the heart of their territory the Danes, utterly defeated, surrendered within a month. Unaware of this, Peter declared war on Sweden in August 1700. Peter led an army of 35,000 men, and quickly laid siege to the city of Narva on the banks of the Narova River, just south of the Gulf of Finland. Peter organized the siege works, but left soon after to organize reinforcements for Charles's eventual relief effort (and thus, as it would turn out, taking himself out of harm's way). Choosing between Poland and Russia, Charles XII thought Russia to be the more dangerous threat, and led a small army of around 11,000 men into the besieged city in November. [18] [19] [20]

The Russians, enjoying a 3 to 1 numerical advantage, expected Charles XII to wait for reinforcements before attacking but in another daring move, the Swedish forces, under cover of a blizzard, opted instead for a surprise attack on the Russian line. Caught off-guard, thinly stretched, and vulnerable to penetration by the skilled Swedish army, the ensuing battle quickly turned into a rout, with the panicked Russian troops attempting to swim over the frigid Narova River, many drowning in its freezing waters. The remainder of the Russian troops were mopped up with ease only three groups, Peter's elite troops and one light infantry brigade, actually put up a reasonable fighting retreat, using supply wagons as improvised defenses. The Battle of Narva, as it came to be called, was a crushing defeat for Peter's young army, with the vast majority of the Russian forces destroyed and nearly all of its siege equipment captured. The Swedes suffered only 700 casualties, while more than 6,000 Russian troops were killed and another 20,000 captured. [18] [19] [21]

Rebuilding his army, the Livonian campaign, and Polish defeat Edit

Following the battle, with the Russian army broken, Charles XII reasoned that the Russians were no longer a threat to him and turned south to deal with Poland instead of pursuing Russia. Historians still argue as to whether or not Charles should have pressed his pursuit of the broken Russian enemy had he chosen to pursue Peter, he might vary well have forced a quick victory and changed the outcome of the war. Regardless, after breaking a Saxony siege on Riga in the summer of 1701, Charles crossed into the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Although the Polish resisted for 6 years, they were finally forced out of the war following Swedish victory, again at impossible odds, at the Battle of Fraustadt. Augustus II was forced off the throne and replaced with the less aggressive Stanisław Leszczyński, and Poland ended its alliance with Russia. [18] [19] [22]

The six year respite proved critical for Peter the Great. With characteristic energy, he quickly rebuilt his army. New officers were pulled out of the nobility in Russia and hired from abroad, and the replacement of soldiers lost at Narva was accomplished through heavy-handed conscription. Peter scraped money to finance his new campaign out of every hole he could find, raising taxes, creating new ones, monopolizing the salt trade, and debasing the currency, anything he could do to raise more cash. Most notoriously, he introduced a tax on beards, and forced churches to melt their bells to make cannons. As new soldiers needed new weapons, much of the money went into the Russian metalworking industry, vastly improving the quantity and quality of the industry, and through it the quality of the Russian weaponry. Because of the large distances involved in the northern war, Peter also built up a large contingent of cavalry. [18] [19] [20]

Peter tempered this new army in attacks on the Swedish holdings of Livonia and Ingria on the Baltic shore. Once he was sure that Charles was heading south, he ordered his field marshal, Boris Sheremetev, to attack the lightly defended colonies, whilst also sending a division south, to delay Charles XII and give Peter time to finish mending his forces. At the end of 1701, Sheremetev met a vastly outnumbered Swedish force on the field at Erastfer in Livonia, soundly defeating them he repeated the feat again at Hummelshof in July 1702. These two victories, the first significant ones in the Russian campaign, helped boost Russian morale after the catastrophe at Narva. Peter then sent Sheremetev to Ingria, where he mopped up Swedish forces on the Lake Ladoga isthmus. October 1702 marked the taking of the Swedish fort of Nöteborg. In May 1703, Peter captured Nyenschantz fortress. He chose a spot at the mouth of the Neva, surrounded by marshes, to establish his fortress of Saint Petersburg. Originally an outpost against the Swedes and Peter's "window to the west", the fortress would later grow into one of Russia's largest and most important population centers, and under Peter, Russia's capital. [18] [19] [23]

Sheremetev's success continued into 1704. The major inland city of Dorpat fell in July 1704, its walls breached by Peter's new artillery. This artillery then went on to play a pivotal role in the second Battle of Narva. This time, with heavier numbers, and Charles XII far away in Poland, Peter was able to take the city, albeit with heavy casualties. The commander in the city violated the ideal of an honorable surrender by refused to give in, and once the Russians breached the city, the remaining Swedish forces were massacred. Overall, the many Swedish losses on the home front put a large dent in the Swedish economy, already strained by the effects of the war. Peter also rapidly assembled a new fleet in the Baltic, resembling his southern one [18] [19] & around that time in 1705 officially formed Russia's first marine unit.

Charles XII elected his own candidate to the Polish throne in 1704, and spent the next three years chasing down Augustus II, now fleeing west towards his native Saxony. Charles XII met Peter's main army, dug in at Grodno, in early 1706. Unwilling to meet an elite force on foreign territory, Peter ordered his forces to retreat, but kept light forces in the area to harass the Swedes whenever possible. Part of the retreating column, led by Menshikov, met a smaller Swedish detachment at Kalisz, and in the ensuing battle defeated it soundly. However, by 1707, Charles had finally chased down and deposed King Augustus, ending his Polish detour and bringing his attention squarely back to Russia. [18] [19]

Domestic revolts and the Ukrainian detour Edit

With only 50,000 soldiers, Charles XII could not dream of conquering all of Russia. Instead, he reasoned that the great wartime pressure that Peter had placed on his country, coupled with the discontent of the boyar nobility, would hand him the victory he desired. Charles had a strong base for this decision, for Peter's heavy-handed taxation had raised discontent against the crown. In the summer of 1705, an unknown monk and a member of the streltsy started a rebellion in Astrakhan against what they saw as the destructive influence of the nobility and foreign influence. The rebellion was bloodily suppressed in March 1707. Similarly, 1705 also marked the rebellion of the Turkish Bashkirs, for parallel reasons this rebellion was not put down until 1711. [18] [19]

More serious was the Bulavin Rebellion in 1707. Opposed to the government position regarding fugitives and influenced by anti foreignism, Konrad Bulavin, a leader of the Don Cossacks, started a rebellion. This was not the first uprising in the enstrangled relations between Russia and the cossacks, but it followed the same pattern the rebellion spread across the south widely, and at its climax may have involved as many as 100,000 men, but was ill-organized and badly led. The rebellion was systematically suppressed by Russian troops pulled off the front dissension spread among Bulavin's men, and he committed suicide in July 1708. The remainder of the rebellion was mopped up by 1709. [18] [19] [24]

Regardless, by the summer of 1708, Charles was positioned in Lithuania, facing a road directly towards Moscow. However, he faced a desolate tundra, deliberately laid bare by Russian forces and protected by the significant fortress of Smolensk. His troops were constantly being harassed by Russian light troops, and reinforcements were still en route. Diplomatically, although Peter offered deals that would return all of the land he captured, save Saint Peterburg and Neva, Charles would not settle for anything less than Swedish victory. Ukraine, fertile and as yet untouched by the war, lay to the south he also knew that Cossack hetman Ivan Mazepa, who largely controlled Ukraine under Peter, was secretly scheming against his tsar. Thus, the Swedes turned south, and entered Ukraine instead. [18] [19] [25]

Historians still argue over whether or not a direct attack could have succeeded, but the Ukrainian diversion turned out to be a disaster for Charles. Charles's long baggage train out of Riga, along with 12,000 reinforcements, were caught by fast-moving Russian cavalry in the fall of 1708. They harassed the reinforcements and supplies, and in the ensuing Battle of Lesnaya Peter's dragoons fought the Swedes to a standstill. Facing increasing Russian numbers, the Swedes were forced to burn their supplies, bury their cannons, and make a rush for Charles's main army out of 12,000 men, only 6,000, and virtually none of the supplies, actually made it to Charles. With more men and no supplies, this only compounded Charles's food problems. The thought-of Cossack reinforcements proved to be illusory as well although Mazepa defected to the Swedes, he only brought 3,000 troops with him. As retribution, Menshikov sacked and razed Baturyn, slaughtering upwards of 6,000 men, women, and children and completely destroying Mazepa's capital. No one else dared defect, and Ukraine remained firmly under Peter's control. [18] [19] [25]

Battle of Poltava Edit

Charles was running out of both time and options. Winter 1708–09 was a miserable one for the Swedes encamped in Ukraine, and in the following spring Charles was bogged down in a siege of the small Russian fortress of Poltava. Peter, still wary of engaging the Swedes in a pitched battle, slowly moved his troops through fortified positions to relieve the small fort. Charles foresaw that he could not take Poltava in time to avoid the Russians, but was confident that his 25,000 veteran troops, despite dwindling numbers, lack of supplies, and exhaustion, could defeat the 40,000 Russians in battle and finally end the war with Swedish victory. Peter, meanwhile, could afford to be patient the Swedes were marooned far from support or reinforcements, and were losing numbers every day. The most direct path between the Russian camp to the north and Poltava was through treacherous forest and marsh, and thus Peter foresaw that any Swedish attack would double around the left, heading west before turning north through open ground towards the Russian army. Peter built six earthen redoubts in a line facing this probable Swedish charge, later augmenting them with four more, extending south in a "T". [26] [27]

In late June, while preparing for the attack, Charles XII was shot in the foot. Thus, once the charge was made on the morning of 8 July 1709 (N. S.), he was leading the battle off of a litter. To Peter's satisfaction, the Swedes moved in exactly the way that he had anticipated. Charles was well aware of the redoubts that Peter had dug, and had reasoned that, to avoid being bogged down and losing the element of surprise, he would rush past them as quickly as he could, and accept the resulting losses, even leaving the bulk of his artillery behind to speed his movement. However, Charles was not aware of the additional four pieces of earthwork that Peter had dug on the eve of battle to surmount this new problem, Charles spent valuable time rearranging his troops from firing lines, superb for volley fire, to faster-moving but less fire-ready columns, a time-consuming move that lost him the element of surprise he had hoped for earlier. With Peter now aware of Charles's movements, the plan quickly went awry many of the Swedish forces got caught up fighting the redoubts anyway, and the smoke from fire on both sides, and the din from the engagements between the Russian and Swedish cavalry ahead of the main force, prevented him from effectively organizing his army. Charles pulled his forces west to reorganize back into a firing line, in a low wooded area to side of the main Russian camp. [26] [27]

Meanwhile, Peter prepared as well, moving his cavalry north to move on the Swedish left flank and also arranging his troops into a line. Charles took on the burden of attack, once again counting on the steadiness and experience of his troops to break the Russian lines. The Swedish right wing led the ensuing attack as in earlier battles, the veteran troops outfought the Russians, collapsing them back and seizing supporting cannon as well. However, the weight of massed Russian fire opened a hole in the middle of the Swedish line, and the Russians, now fully able to make full use of such an event, poured through it and broke the Swedish column in half. The Swedish line broke and scattered, and 10,000 Swedes were killed or captured most of the rest were captured on the banks of the Dnieper by Menshikov. Only a few hundred, including Charles himself, escaped south to Turkish exile. [26] [28]

The Battle of Poltava was one of the most decisive victory in Russian history. The result of the Battle of Poltava, and of the following surrender, was that the bulk of the Swedish army was simply annihilated, leaving Sweden wide open for attack. At home, the victory gave Peter the political capital, and the war lull, he needed to crush ongoing domestic issues in fact, if Peter had lost the battle, opposition to the tsar's reforms could have become active support for a new tsar. Poltava demonstrates how far the Russian army had come after all, just nine years earlier, the Russians had been almost destroyed fighting the Swedes with an even greater numerical advantage. Peter the Great fully appreciated the importance of the battle's outcome, and made sure to thank the captured Swedes for their "lessons". However, the battle did not win the war, which was not yet even half over. [18] [26] [27]

Ottoman detour Edit

The Ottomans had been apprehensive of Peter's militaristic gains, but had stayed out of the war. However, edged on by France and by Charles XII, the Ottomans, at the time harboring an exiled Charles XII, declared war on Peter by 1710. Now enjoying a temporary lull in the Great Northern War thanks to Poltava, Peter was quick, indeed eager, to move south. He pulled many of his troops, as well as Sheremetev, his most reliable general, south across the whole length of Russia to fight this new war. This was not the first time that Russia had fought against the Ottomans, and it would not be the last however, like in earlier wars, Peter underestimated the distances involved and the stress of having to fight two wars simultaneously. Peter was the first to actively encourage Wallachia and Moldavia, mostly Christian areas under Turkish control, to revolt against their Ottoman rulers. [29]

By spring 1711 Peter was ready. He moved his army from Kyiv down through Poland, skirting wide of the Black Sea, before crossing the Dnester into Moldavia, aiming to sever it from Turkish rule. In reality, the campaign turned out to be a disaster the 40,000 Russian troops, stymied by the enormous distances involved, were instead trapped on the river Prut by 130,000 Turkish troops. In the only major battle, the Russians successfully held the Ottomans, unaccustomed to concentrated Russian firepower, at bay, but the fight was indeed hopeless, as Peter was trapped and facing a superior Turkish force. The resultant treaty was surprisingly lenient considering that the Russian force was facing annihilation Peter lost Azov, was forced to abandon his southern fleet, promised not to meddle with Polish affairs, and guaranteed safe passage to Sweden for Charles XII. In return, Peter was able to extricate himself from the situation, and continued to hold a dominant position in the Great Northern War. [29]


The problem of where to place the German Empire (1871-1918) in a typology of European states has long troubled historians. Was it a nation-state, a colonial empire, or a continental empire? This article uses the example of the German Empire, in comparative context, to question the usefulness of such typologies for any of the European states before the First World War. They rest, it suggests, in part on reifications of terms like nation, empire, language, culture and even Europe that are not historically justifiable. A survey of the recent literature on European states before the First World War suggests that decoupling these terms from each other (for example nation, language, culture) can help generate a new and potentially fruitful trans-national (or trans-imperial) perspective on European history in the long nineteenth century.

Francesco de Palma (1885-)

De Palma: Constitutionally Limited (1885)

Suppressing Italy had been the main aim for the political classes for the war against France and with little to be gained but many global powers increasingly critical of the Federation's expansionism, weeks of internal bickering during negotiations with France stole political momentum and ensured a huge let off for France who, though not out the woods, was saved from certain collapse with that slight slap on the wrist. Indeed, the new President, De Palma, was far more concerned about the issue of Romanian independence. Though the rest of Europe was busy with its own wars, diplomatic cables were converging on the temporary capital of Milan, Cisalpina, warning of possible diplomatic moves by the other Great Powers to broker a deal - it seemed unlikely the whole of Romania could be restored and many doubted the Federation's claims to legitimacy, particularly over certain Moldovan provinces. To make things worse for de Palma, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that, given increasing evidence calling Lilic's 1884 victory into question (and therefore De Palma's legitimacy as President) elections would have to be held within three months, leaving little chance of De Palma's desired pause in Federal Politics. To make things worse, Congress itself was dissolved by the Court. Elections for the legislature were scheduled for October, where their first priority would be agreeing upon a new capital. More or less simultaneously, the major parties of the Federation were to hold their primaries shortly after, with the first round of the Presidential poll scheduled for November 5th, exactly three months after the Court's ruling. Politics was immobilised, but the politicians had to run fast to keep pace.

Assess the Impact of the Cotton Industry on the British Economy 1770-1830

This essay achieved a low 2:1 in the first year of my undergraduate.

Assess the impact of the Cotton industry on the British economy 1770-1830

­­There are a range of viewpoints surrounding the industrial revolution, the relative importance of the cotton industry, and the effect the two had on the British economy in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The traditional view of the industrial revolution is that of ‘King Cotton,’ and explosive industrial and by extension economic growth. More recently what can be termed ‘Revisionist’ historians (as well as economists)[1] have put forward evidence that economic growth was in fact slow that it was a mere acceleration of present growth. The cotton industry undoubtedly had an impact on the British economy, by virtue of many inter-related factors and arguably stemmed from the notable progressive technology through the period. As well as this, the rate of expansion of the industry, the increase in its wealth and its effect on population growth had an inevitable knock-on effect on the economy[2]. The overall impact of the cotton industry and its expansion on the British economy is widely regarded[3] as a substantial one, but most historians[4] tend also to stress the importance of other industries such as iron and agriculture, which is probably accurate the cotton industry was the greatest single contributor to national economy -which is not to say that other industries were unimportant, just that cotton far outstripped their growth, as is shown by the cotton industry overtaking wool[5].

The inventions, innovations and general progressive technologies of the cotton industry must be regarded as important in its expansion and therefore its effect on the British economy. Hargreaves’ invention of the Spinning Jenny in the 1770s boosted the output of cotton products significantly[6], increasing the value of the industry as a whole within the economy through both domestic sales and exports. The other important inventions (Arkwright’s Water Frame and Crompton’s Mule) are perhaps more crucial when assessing the effect of the cotton industry on the British economy, due to the fact that they opened a new mass market and arguably diversified the industry respectively[7]. The fact that the cotton warp produced by the Water Frame was cheaper than its linen-based competitors to produce, and that it was effectively a brand new mass market meant that it was very attractive to consumers. Crompton’s Mule produced cotton comparable to silk, which meant that the luxury materials which were previously imported from India among others became more reliably[8] available on the domestic market, and this contributed significantly to a rise in demand, and a fall in costs. All of this further increased the amount of money involved in the industry, and had the overall effect of increasing its value, which had the accompanying effect of stimulating general economic growth.

The impact of inventions within the cotton industry was not however restricted to simply its direct effect. The fact that the cotton industry was seen by contemporaries as at the forefront of technological advancement attracted people into the industry, which allowed the industry to further expand. The large demand growing for the finer quality cotton produced by the Mules had the similar effect of drawing workers into the industry[9]. The combination of these effects is most famously exemplified by the development of Manchester: both in terms of population growth[10], and the expansion of the industry. In 1782, there were just two cotton mills in Manchester and by 1802, there were 52[11]. The shift of population into what increasingly became urban, industrial centres in turn meant that the industries (specifically that of cotton) were able to continue growing and progressing, which was of course reflected in the economy, by contrast to the economies of contemporary France and Ireland[12].

The expansion and growth of the cotton industry inevitably led to an increase in its value (from £500,000 in the early 1770s to more than £5,000,000 before 1800[13]), and this had effects both direct and indirect on the greater British economy. The direct effects included the increase in its contribution to the national product -from 0.5% before 1770 to 60% by the first decade of the nineteenth century[14]-, as well as a change to British exports (by the end of the Napoleonic Wars, around one half of all British exports were cotton products[15]). Apart from this, the increased value of the industry meant that there was greater scope for further expansion, due to the fact that it made additional funding available both for new mills and for technological research to improve production methods still more. As well as this, the affluence and capitalist nature of the cotton industry undoubtedly attracted people seeking to make money out of the new markets.

As has already been stated, there was considerable population growth, both across Britain and more particularly in areas where the cotton industry was prevalent. The best example of this is in Lancashire: in 1801, the population of Lancashire was 673,486 and by 1830, it was around 1,336,854, most of which was concentrated in new industrial towns. The impact of the cotton industry specifically can be demonstrated by the higher than national average population growth (close to 15%) in Lancashire (over 20% per decade in the period)[16]. It was not only the areas in which the cotton industry became established which were affected however: there were areas of significant growth which did not have cotton mills. The most notable of these were Liverpool, Bristol and Glasgow, which grew into major commercial ports due to the increase in cotton imports needed to supply the new and rapid growth[17]. While this concentration of population was undoubtedly a result of the centralisation of the industry, it is probable that this movement of people also contributed to a certain extent. As more people moved into urban industrial areas, there was a larger potential labour force, and so the industry was able to expand faster, which in turn nurtured the embryonic working class.

The cotton industry had other perhaps further-reaching effects on the wider British economy. The fact that the growth of the cotton industry arguably heralded the beginnings of a proletarian working class meant that it was significant for the development of the British economy[18]. The main contributing factor to the creation of the working class was also an important phase in the development of the British economy: due to the fact that it was more economical to build bigger mills and factories, it became increasingly advantageous to centralise the industry[19]. It is important to stress however that the working class was not simply restricted to the cotton industry it played a part in the development of industry in general although the former as the largest growing industry arguably contributed most to its creation though. As well as this, the growth of the cotton industry also served to stimulate development in other indirect but connected industries, such as transport, banking and commerce[20], which clearly shows the breadth of the impact that the industry had on the British economy.

The impact of the cotton industry must however be qualified. Different historians have varying views on the level of qualification however. Cipolla argues that the cotton industry on its own was not revolutionary, and that it was only in conjunction with the developments in other industries that there was such an impact on the economy, and that no single industry was more important than any of the others[21]. This is effectively stating that the impact of each individual industry was limited. It is true that the iron and coal industries, and the developments therein had significant effects on the British economy, and that the cotton industry was not solely responsible for the economic growth experienced by Britain as a result of the Industrial Revolution. Indeed Pawson argues that the expansion of the cotton industry in this period was due to the prior century and a half of development, and that 1770-1830 was merely a period of acceleration of growth, rather than it being completely unprecedented[22]. Whether or not it was unprecedented, it is certainly true that the ‘acceleration’ of this period had a profound effect on the British economy, and the impact of the cotton industry is undeniable.

Despite these counter arguments, it is fair to say that the impact the cotton industry had on the British economy was significant. The expansion of the industry, both in terms of output and its diversity served to enrich both the industry and as a result the economy. This drew more people into the industry which in turn contributed to the its rate of expansion, and meant that its development was somewhat self-sufficient. This autarchic nature only served to increase the profits of the industry, which meant that its contribution to the development both of other (ancillary) industries and the larger economy can be considered the most important in this period[23]. The general population growth which was resultant of the rise of the cotton industry had perhaps the broadest effect on the British economy, because the extra population did not invariably end up in cotton industry. Attracted to areas of greater affluence, the population would have been involved in other supporting industries as well as the cotton industry. This would seem to confirm that the effect of the cotton industry on the economy was not only significant of itself, but also fairly wide-ranging.

Word count (including title): 1,930

[1] Such as Williamson, Harley, and Crafts, see F.W. Botham and E.H. Hunt, ‘Wages in Britain during the industrial revolution,’ The Economic History Review, 40 (1987), p.380.

[2] E.J. Hobsbawm, Industry and Empire: An Economic History of Britain since 1750, p.51.

[3] Although not exclusively: see M. Koyama, ‘The Price of Time and Labour Supply: From The Black Death to The Industrious Revolution,’ Discussion Papers in Economic and Social History, 78 (2009), p.3.

[4] See T.S. Ashton, The Industrial Revolution 1760-1830, pp.58-60 or C.M. CIpolla (ed.) The Fontana Economic History of Europe Volume 4, part 1: The Emergence of Industrial Societies, p.162.

[5] T.S. Ashton, The Industrial Revolution 1760-1830, p. 75

[6] C.M. Cipolla (ed.), The Fontana Economic History of Europe Volume 4, Part 1: The Emergence of Industrial Societies, p.176.

[7] T.S. Ashton The Industrial Revolution 1760-1830, pp.72-3.

[8] E.J. Hobsbawm, Industry and Empire: An Economic History of Britain since 1750, p.41

[9] T.S Ashton, The Industrial Revolution 1760-1830, p.74.

[10] See E. Pawson, The Early Industrial Revolution: Britain in the Eighteenth Century, p.33.

[11] T.S. Ashton, The Industrial Revolution 1760-1830, p.74.

[12] E. Pawson, The Early Industrial Revolution: Britain in the Eighteenth Century, p.39.

[13] C.M. Cipolla (ed.), The Fontana Economic History of Europe Volume 4, Part 1: The Emergence of Industrial Societies, pp.176-7.

[14] C.M. Cipolla (ed.), The Fontana Economic History of Europe Volume 4, Part 1: The Emergence of Industrial Societies, pp.171-7, see also E.J. Hobsbawm, Industry and Empire: An Economic History of Britain since 1750, p.51.

[15] E.J. Hobsbawm, Industry and Empire: An Economic History of Britain since 1750, p.51

[16] J. Watts, The Facts of the Cotton Famine, p.34

[17] E.J. Hobsbawm, Industry and Empire: An Economic History of Britain since 1750, p.41

[18] C.M. Cipolla (ed.), The Fontana Economic History of Europe Volume 4, Part 1: The Emergence of Industrial Societies, p.186.

[19] E.J. Hobsbawm, Industry and Empire: An Economic History of Britain since 1750, p.67

[20] C.M. Cipolla (ed.), The Fontana Economic History of Europe Volume 4, Part 1: The Emergence of Industrial Societies, p.186

[21] See C.M. Cipolla (ed.), The Fontana Economic History of Europe Volume 4, Part 1: The Emergence of Industrial Societies, p.162

[22] E. Pawson, The Early Industrial Revolution: Britain in the Eighteenth Century, pp.102-3

[23] See E.J. Hobsbawm, Industry and Empire: An Economic History of Britain since 1750, p.51


Ashton, T.S., The Industrial Revolution 1760-1830 (London, New York & Toronto, 1948)

Botham, F.W., and Hunt, E.H., ‘Wages in Britain during the industrial revolution,’ The Economic History Review, 40 (1987), pp.380-99

Chapman, S.D., The Cotton Industry in the Industrial Revolution (Basingstoke, 1987)

Chapman, S.J., The Lancashire Cotton Industry: A Study in Economic Development (Manchester, 1904)

Cipolla, C.M. (ed.), The Fontana Economic History of Europe Volume 3: The Industrial Revolution (Glasgow, 1973)

Cipolla, C.M. (ed.), The Fontana Economic History of Europe Volume 4, Part 1: The Emergence of Industrial Societies (London & Glasgow, 1973)

Crafts, N., ‘Productivity Growth in the Industrial Revolution: A New Growth Accounting Perspective,’ The Journal of Economic History, 64 (2004), pp.521-35

Harley, C.K., ‘Cotton Textile Prices and the Industrial Revolution,’ The Economic History Review, 51 (1998), pp.49-83

Hobsbawm, E.J., Industry and Empire: An Economic History of Britain since 1750 (London, 1968)

Hudson, P., The Industrial Revolution (London, 1992)

Jones, E.L. and Mingay, G.E. (eds.), Land, Labour and Population in the Industrial Revolution (London, 1967)

Koyama, M., ‘The Price of Time and Labour Supply: From The Black Death to The Industrious Revolution,’ Discussion Papers in Economic and Social History, 78 (2009), pp.1-45

Pawson, E., The Early Industrial Revolution: Britain in the Eighteenth Century (London, 1979)

Watts, J., The Facts of the Cotton Famine (London, 1866)

All the following feedback is rated on the following scale: Outstanding-Excellent-Good-Competent-Pass-Fail.

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Critical approach to historiography: Competent

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Organization of the material: Good-Competent

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Use of examples: Good

Introduction and Conclusion: Good-Competent

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General Comments and Advice: Good discussion, referring to your reading and some comments thereon. It started a bit stilted but once you got going it was well written and flowed well. Footnoting style needs sorting, but overall a good essay.

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