Political map of central Europe showing the 26 areas that became part of the united German Empire in 1891. Prussia based in the northeast, dominates in size, occupying about 40% of the new empire.
The Emperor in 1884
The German Confederation in 1815
Map of the Holy Roman Empire in 1789. The map is dominated by the Habsburg monarchy (orange) and the Kingdom of Prussia (blue), besides a large number of small states (many of them too small to be shown on the map).
The Emperor in 1884
Boundaries (in red) of the German Confederation with Prussia in blue, Austria in yellow, and the rest of the German states in grey
The Battle of the Nations monument, erected for the centennial in 1913, honors the efforts of the German people in the victory over Napoleon.
Queen Louise of Prussia with her two eldest sons (later King Frederick William IV of Prussia and the first German Emperor William I), circa 1808
The German Confederation in 1815
Coat of arms of the German Confederation, also called the Deutscher Bund
Coronation of William as King of Prussia at Königsberg Castle in 1861
Chart: functioning of the German Confederation
In October, 1817, approximately 500 students rallied at Wartburg Castle, where Martin Luther had sought refuge over three centuries earlier, to demonstrate in favor of national unification. Wartburg was chosen for its symbolic connection to German national character. Contemporary colored wood engraving
William on a black horse with his suite, Bismarck, Moltke, Roon, and others, watching the Battle of Königgrätz, 1866
Monarchs of the member states of the German Confederation (with the exception of the Prussian king) meeting at Frankfurt in 1863
Boundaries of the German Confederation. Prussia is blue, Austria-Hungary yellow, and the rest grey.
William in a hussar's uniform, in a painting by Emil Hünten
Austrian chancellor and foreign minister Klemens von Metternich dominated the German Confederation from 1815 until 1848.
This drawing offered a satirical commentary on the prevalence of toll barriers in the many German states, circa 1834. Some states were so small that transporters loaded and reloaded their cargoes two and three times a day.
William is proclaimed German Emperor in the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, France flanked by his only son, Frederick and son in law – Frederick I, Grand Duke of Baden. Painting by Anton von Werner
The University of Berlin in 1850
German linguistic area (green) and political boundaries around 1841 (grey) in comparison to the text's geographic references (bold blue)
Caricature of William I by Thomas Nast which appeared in The Fight at Dame Europa's School by Henry William Pullen
Zollverein and German unification
Pro-nationalist participants march to the ruins of Hambach Castle in 1832. Students and some professionals, and their spouses, predominated. They carried the flag of the underground Burschenschaft, which later became the basis of the flag of modern Germany.
William's funeral procession, 1888
War ensign of the Reichsflotte
A German caricature mocking the Carlsbad Decrees, which suppressed freedom of expression
10 goldmark depicting William and his titles
Naval jack of the Reichsflotte
Pre-parliament delegates processing into Paul's Church in Frankfurt, where they laid the groundwork for electing a National Parliament
Monogram of William I
In Frankfurt at the Paulskirche, June 14th, 2008: The German navy commemorates the 160th anniversary of the decision of the Frankfurt Parliament to create the Reichsflotte.
This depiction of Germania, also by Philipp Veit, was created to hide the organ of the Paul's Church in Frankfurt, during the meeting of the Parliament there, March 1848–49. The sword was intended to symbolize the Word of God and to mark the renewal of the people and their triumphant spirit.
Map of the German Confederation
The convergence of leadership in politics and diplomacy by Bismarck, left, reorganization of the army and its training techniques by Albrecht von Roon (center), and the redesign of operational and strategic principles by Helmuth von Moltke (right) placed Prussia among the most powerful states in European affairs after the 1860s.
From north to south: The Danish part of Jutland in purple and terracotta, Schleswig in red and brown, and Holstein in lime yellow. The Schleswig-Holstein Question was about the status of those territories.
Prussian Prince Friedrich Carl ordering his enthusiastic troops to attack at the Battle of Königgrätz
Emperor Napoleon III (left) at Sedan, on 2 September 1870, seated next to Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, holding Napoleon's surrendered sword. The defeat of the French army destabilized Napoleon's regime; a revolution in Paris established the Third French Republic, and the war continued.
18 January 1871: The proclamation of the German Empire in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles. Bismarck appears in white. The Grand Duke of Baden stands beside Wilhelm, leading the cheers. Crown Prince Friedrich, later Friedrich III, stands on his father's right. Painting by Anton von Werner
Germania, also called the Niederwald Monument, was erected in 1877–83 at Rüdesheim.
Monument to Kaiser Wilhelm, at Koblenz, where the Moselle River (upper river) meets the Rhine River (lower river), called the Deutsches Eck, or the German corner.
In this close-up of the Niederwald Monument (see long shot above), Germania towers 40 m above the town of Rüdesheim. She holds a crown in her right hand and carries a sword at her side. The Niederwald Germania was erected 1877–1883.
Situation at the time of the outbreak of the war:
Austria's allies
Prussia's allies
Under joint administration (Schleswig-Holstein)
Aftermath of the war:
Territories annexed by Prussia
Prussia's allies
Austria's allies
Neutral members of the German Confederation

Princes of most of the German-speaking states gathered there to proclaim King Wilhelm I of Prussia as German Emperor during the Franco-Prussian War.

- Unification of Germany

Under the leadership of William and his minister president Otto von Bismarck, Prussia achieved the unification of Germany and the establishment of the German Empire.

- William I, German Emperor

Economically, the creation of the Prussian Zollverein (customs union) in 1818, and its subsequent expansion to include other states of the German Confederation, reduced competition between and within states.

- Unification of Germany

The German revolutions of 1848–1849, motivated by liberal, democratic, socialist and nationalist sentiments, attempted to transform the Confederation into a unified German federal state with a liberal constitution (usually called the Frankfurt Constitution in English).

- German Confederation

In 1854, the prince was raised to the rank of a field-marshal and made governor of the federal fortress of Mainz.

- William I, German Emperor

In 1851, Bismarck was appointed by King Wilhelm I of Prussia (the future Kaiser Wilhelm I) to circumvent the liberals in the Landtag of Prussia, who resisted Wilhelm's autocratic militarism.

- German Confederation
Political map of central Europe showing the 26 areas that became part of the united German Empire in 1891. Prussia based in the northeast, dominates in size, occupying about 40% of the new empire.

3 related topics with Alpha


German Empire

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Chancellor Bismarck, the statesman who unified Germany with skillful political moves
Wilhelm I in 1884
Die Proklamation des Deutschen Kaiserreiches by Anton von Werner (1877), depicting the proclamation of Emperor William I (18 January 1871, Palace of Versailles). From left, on the podium (in black): Crown Prince Frederick (later Frederick III), his father the emperor, and Frederick I of Baden, proposing a toast to the new emperor. At centre (in white): Otto von Bismarck, first Chancellor of Germany, Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, Prussian Chief of Staff.
A postage stamp from the Caroline Islands
German colonies and protectorates in 1914
The Krupp works in Essen, 1890
Tensions between Germany and the Catholic Church hierarchy as depicted in a chess game between Bismarck and Pope Pius IX. Between Berlin and Rome, Kladderadatsch, 1875
Prussian deportations of ethnic Poles (Polenausweisungen), 1909 painting by Wojciech Kossak
Crime; convicts in relation to the population, 1882–1886
Frederick III, emperor for only 99 days (9 March – 15 June 1888)
Wilhelm II in 1902
The Reichstag in the 1890s / early 1900s
Berlin in the late 19th century
Bismarck at the Berlin Conference, 1884
Flag of the German colonial empire
Hoisting of the German flag at Mioko, German New Guinea in 1884
Map of the world showing the participants in World War I. Those fighting on the Entente's side (at one point or another) are depicted in green, the Central Powers in orange, and neutral countries in grey.
German troops being mobilized, 1914
German Army positions, 1914
The Eastern Front at the time of the cease-fire and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
A war memorial in Berlin
Coats of arms and flags of the constituent states in 1900
Percentage of linguistic minorities of the German Empire in 1900 by Kreis
Emperor Wilhelm II, who was the Supreme Governor of the Evangelical Church of Prussia's older Provinces, and Empress Augusta Victoria after the inauguration of the Evangelical Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem (Reformation Day, 31 October 1898)
War flag of the German Empire. In 1956, the Iron Cross was re-introduced as the symbol of the Bundeswehr, the modern German armed forces.
German territories lost in both World Wars are shown in black, while present-day Germany is marked dark grey on this 1914 map.
Different legal systems in Germany prior to 1900
Fields of law in the German Empire
Administrative map
Population density ({{circa|1885}})
Election constituencies for the Reichstag
Detailed map in 1893 with cities and larger towns
Czech (and Moravian)
Distribution of Protestants and Catholics in Imperial Germany
Distribution of Protestants, Catholics and Jews in Imperial Germany (Meyers Konversationslexikon)
Distribution of Jews in Imperial Germany
Greater Imperial coat of arms of Germany
Middle Imperial coat of arms of Germany
Lesser Imperial coat of arms of Germany
The German Empire during World War I, shortly before its collapse:
Home Territory (1871–1919)
Client states (1917–1919)
Occupied territory (1914–1919)

The German Empire (German: Deutsches Kaiserreich), also referred to as Imperial Germany, the Kaiserreich, the Second Reich, as well as simply Germany, was the period of the German Reich from the unification of Germany in 1871 until the November Revolution in 1918, when the German Reich changed its form of government from a monarchy to a republic.

It was founded on 18 January 1871, when the south German states, except for Austria, joined the North German Confederation and the new constitution came into force on April 16, changing the name of the federal state to the German Empire and introducing the title of German Emperor for Wilhelm I, King of Prussia from the House of Hohenzollern.

The German Confederation had been created by an act of the Congress of Vienna on 8 June 1815 as a result of the Napoleonic Wars, after being alluded to in Article 6 of the 1814 Treaty of Paris.

Bismarck in 1890

Otto von Bismarck

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Conservative German statesman and diplomat.

Conservative German statesman and diplomat.

Bismarck in 1890
Bismarck in 1836, at age 21
Bismarck in 1847, at age 32
The German Confederation 1815–1866. Prussia (in blue) considerably expanded its territory.
Bismarck in 1863 with Roon (centre) and Moltke (right), the three leaders of Prussia in the 1860s
Otto von Bismarck as Minister President of Prussia, shown wearing insignia of a knight of the Johanniterorden, 1858
Cartoon from 1867 making fun of Bismarck's different roles, from general to minister of foreign affairs, federal chancellor, hunter, diplomat and president of the parliament of the Zollverein, the Prussian-dominated German customs union
Surrender of Napoleon III after the Battle of Sedan, 1 September 1870
Anton von Werner's patriotic, much-reproduced depiction of the proclamation of Wilhelm I as German emperor in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. Bismarck is in the center, wearing a white uniform. (1885)
Bismarck in 1873
Between Berlin and Rome, Bismarck confronts Pope Pius IX, 1875
The Krupp factory in Essen, 1880
Bismarck c. 1875
Hoisting the German flag at Mioko, German New Guinea in 1884
European officials staking claims to Africa in the Conference of Berlin in 1884
Franz von Lenbach's portrait of Bismarck in his 75th year
Photo of Chancellor Bismarck in the 1880s.
Lenbach painting of Bismarck in retirement (1895)
Bismarck on his deathbed, 30 July 1898
A statue of Bismarck in Berlin
Bismarck's punchy sayings were borrowed by his successors, including the Nazis. This 1942 Nazi propaganda poster quotes Bismarck: "When the Germans hold together, they beat the devil out of hell."
Arms of Otto, Prince Bismarck
Caricature by Opper 1895 of Bismarck & Britain's William Ewart Gladstone as performers on the political stage
Statue of Otto von Bismarck in the northernmost German state of Schleswig-Holstein
King William on a black horse with his suite, Bismarck, Moltke, Roon and others, watching the Battle of Königgrätz

He masterminded the unification of Germany in 1871 and served as the first Chancellor of the German Empire until 1890, in which capacity he dominated European affairs.

He cooperated with King Wilhelm I of Prussia to unify the various German states, a partnership that would last for the rest of Wilhelm's life.

Following the victory against Austria, he abolished the supranational German Confederation and instead formed the North German Confederation as the first German national state, aligning the smaller North German states behind Prussia, while excluding Austria.

Battle of Königgrätz, by Georg Bleibtreu. Oil on canvas, 1869

Austro-Prussian War

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Battle of Königgrätz, by Georg Bleibtreu. Oil on canvas, 1869
Map depicting deployment and advance of Austrian (red) and Prussian (green) troops and their allies.
Depiction of Prussian and Austrian troop movements and maneuvers during the Battle of Königgrätz
Movements of the Prussian Army near the Main river
The memorial to the Battery of the dead in Chlum, (modern Czech Republic) commemorates some of the heaviest fighting during the Battle of Königgrätz.
Prussian Prince Friedrich Karl is cheered on by his troops.
The Prussian Dreyse needle gun
The Battle of Königgrätz
Prussian artillery at the Battle of Langensalza. Oil painting by Georg von Boddien
Cavalry clash at the Battle of Nachod
Austrian victory at the naval Battle of Lissa
Austrian uhlans under Colonel Rodakowski attack Italian Bersaglieri during the Battle of Custoza
Reception of Prussian troops in Berlin on 21 September 1866
The North German Confederation (red), the South German states (golden) and the exposed Alsace-Lorraine (paler) after the war

The Austro-Prussian War, Seven Weeks' War, German Civil War, Brothers War or Fraternal War, known in Germany as Deutscher Krieg ("German War"), Deutscher Bruderkrieg ("German war of brothers") and by a variety of other names, was fought in 1866 between the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia, with each also being aided by various allies within the German Confederation.

It resulted in the abolition of the German Confederation and its partial replacement by the unification of all of the northern German states in the North German Confederation that excluded Austria and the other Southern German states, a Kleindeutsches Reich.

There, the Prussian armies, led nominally by King William I, converged, and the two sides met at the Battle of Königgrätz (Hradec Králové) on 3 July.