Unification of Germany

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.
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 Battle of the Nations monument, erected for the centennial in 1913, honors the efforts of the German people in the victory over Napoleon.
Coat of arms of the German Confederation, also called the Deutscher Bund
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
Boundaries of the German Confederation. Prussia is blue, Austria-Hungary yellow, and the rest grey.
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.
German linguistic area (green) and political boundaries around 1841 (grey) in comparison to the text's geographic references (bold blue)
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.
A German caricature mocking the Carlsbad Decrees, which suppressed freedom of expression
Pre-parliament delegates processing into Paul's Church in Frankfurt, where they laid the groundwork for electing a National Parliament
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.
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.

The unification of Germany (Deutsche Einigung, ) into the German Empire, a Prussian-dominated nation state with federal features, officially occurred on 18 January 1871 at the Palace of Versailles in France.

- Unification of Germany
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.

53 related topics

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Bismarck in 1890

Otto von Bismarck

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

He masterminded the unification of Germany in 1871 and served as its first chancellor until 1890, in which capacity he dominated European affairs for two decades.

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

Austro-Prussian War

Fought in 1866 between the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia, with each also being aided by various allies within the German Confederation.

Fought in 1866 between the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia, with each also being aided by various allies within the German Confederation.

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

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.

German Empire

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
Danish
Dutch
Frisian
Polish
Czech (and Moravian)
Masurian
Kashubian
Sorbian
French
Walloon
Italian
Lithuanian
non-German
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 or the Imperial State of Germany, 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.

(clockwise from top right) Battle of Mars-la-Tour, 16 August 1870

The Lauenburg 9th Jäger Battalion at Gravelotte

The Last Cartridges

The Defense of Champigny

The Siege of Paris in 1870

The Proclamation of the German Empire

Franco-Prussian War

Conflict between the Second French Empire and the North German Confederation led by the Kingdom of Prussia.

Conflict between the Second French Empire and the North German Confederation led by the Kingdom of Prussia.

(clockwise from top right) Battle of Mars-la-Tour, 16 August 1870

The Lauenburg 9th Jäger Battalion at Gravelotte

The Last Cartridges

The Defense of Champigny

The Siege of Paris in 1870

The Proclamation of the German Empire
Map of the North German Confederation (red), four Southern German States (orange) and Alsace-Lorraine (beige)
French soldiers drill at IIe Chambrière camp near Metz, 1870
Prussian field artillery column at Torcy in September 1870
Map of the German and French armies near the common border on 31 July 1870
Course of the first phase of the war up to the Battle of Sedan on 1 September 1870
Bavarian infantry at the Battle of Wissembourg, 1870
Map of the Prussian and German offensives, 5–6 August 1870
Aimé Morot's La bataille de Reichshoffen, 1887
Heinrich XVII, Prince Reuss, on the side of the 5th Squadron I Guards Dragoon Regiment at Mars-la-Tour, 16 August 1870. Emil Hünten, 1902
The "Rifle Battalion 9 from Lauenburg" at Gravelotte
The Cemetery of St. Privat by Alphonse-Marie-Adolphe de Neuville (1881)
Surrender of Metz
Napoleon III and Bismarck talk after Napoleon's capture at the Battle of Sedan, by Wilhelm Camphausen
Course of the second phase of the war (part 1–1 September to 30 November)
Course of the second phase of the war (part 2–1 December until the end of the war)
"The War: Defence of Paris—Students Going to Man the Fortifications"—one of the iconic images of the siege of Paris
Troops quarter in Paris, by Anton von Werner (1894)
The Battle of Bapaume took place from 2–3 January 1871, during the Franco-Prussian War in and around Biefvillers-lès-Bapaume and Bapaume. The Prussian advance was stopped by Genéral Louis Léon César Faidherbe at the head of the Armée du Nord.
The French Army of the East is disarmed at the Swiss border in this 1881 depiction
In this painting by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes a woman holds up an oak twig as a symbol of hope for the nation's recovery from war and deprivation after the Franco-Prussian War. The Walters Art Museum.
French warships at sea in 1870
Painting of in battle with, by
German uhlans and an infantryman escorting captured French soldiers
Europe at This Moment (1872) – A Political-Geographic Fantasy: An elaborate satirical map reflecting the European situation following the Franco-Prussian war. France had suffered a crushing defeat: the loss of Alsace and parts of Lorraine; The map contains satirical comments on 14 countries
Prussian parade in Paris in 1871
Europe after the Franco-Prussian War and the unification of Germany
Proclamation of the German Empire, painted by Anton von Werner

By hastening the process of German unification, it significantly altered the balance of power on the continent; with the new German nation state supplanting France as the dominant European land power.

Kingdom of Prussia

German kingdom that constituted the state of Prussia between 1701 and 1918.

German kingdom that constituted the state of Prussia between 1701 and 1918.

The Prussian Crown Jewels, Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin
The Kingdom of Prussia within the German Empire between 1871 and 1918
Prussian territorial acquisitions in the 18th century
The Kingdom of Prussia within the German Empire between 1871 and 1918
Attack of the Prussian infantry at the Battle of Hohenfriedberg in 1745
The three partitions of Poland (the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth). The Russian Partition (red), the Austrian Partition (green), and the Prussian Partition (blue)
Prussia (orange) and its territories lost after the War of the Fourth Coalition (other colours)
Frederick William III of Prussia, Alexander I of Russia and Francis I of Austria after the Battle of Leipzig, 1813
Expansion of Prussia, 1807–1871
King Wilhelm I on a black horse with his suite, Bismarck, Moltke, and others, watching the Battle of Königgrätz
The Prussian King's Crown (Hohenzollern Castle Collection)
The ten provinces of the Kingdom of Prussia, after the Congress of Vienna. The other member states of the German Confederation are shown in beige. The Canton of Neuchâtel in the south-west was under Prussian administration until 1848.
Current states of Germany (shown in dark green) that are completely or mostly situated inside the old borders of Imperial Germany's Kingdom of Prussia

It was the driving force behind the unification of Germany in 1871 and was the leading state of the German Empire until its dissolution in 1918.

Portrait by Jean Hippolyte Flandrin, 1862

Napoleon III

The first President of France (as Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte) from 1848 to 1852 and the Emperor of the French from 1852 to 1870.

The first President of France (as Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte) from 1848 to 1852 and the Emperor of the French from 1852 to 1870.

Portrait by Jean Hippolyte Flandrin, 1862
Louis Napoleon at the time of his failed coup in 1836
Louis Napoleon launching his failed coup in Strasbourg in 1836
The Revolution of February 1848, which forced King Louis Philippe I to abdicate, opened the way for Louis Napoleon to return to France and to run for the National Assembly.
Louis Napoleon as a member of the National Assembly in 1848. He spoke rarely in the Assembly, but, because of his name, had enormous popularity in the country.
Louis Napoleon captured 74.2 percent of votes cast in the first French direct presidential elections in 1848.
Silver coin: 5 franc, 1852, Under Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte as president
Silver coin: 5 franc, 1870, Under Emperor Napoleon III
Adolphe Thiers (1797–1877), leader of the conservative republicans in the National Assembly, reluctantly supported Louis Napoleon in the 1848 elections and became his bitter opponent during the Second Republic.
François-Vincent Raspail, leader of the left wing of the socialist deputies in the Second Republic, who led an attempt to overthrow Louis Napoleon's government in March 1849. He was imprisoned, however Napoleon III commuted his imprisonment to an exile and he was allowed back into France in 1862
Daguerreotype of Napoleon III c. 1850–1855
The Prince-President in 1852, after the coup d'état
Photographic portrait of Louis Napoleon (1852) by Gustave Le Gray
The Gare de Lyon and Gare du Nord railway stations in Paris were built under Napoleon III. During his reign, the railway network of France expanded from 3 500 kilometres to 20 000 kilometres.
Among the commercial innovations encouraged by Napoleon III were the first department stores. Bon Marché opened in 1852, followed by Au Printemps in 1865.
Enormous public works projects reconstructed the center of Paris. Here, work to extend the Rue de Rivoli continues at night by electric light (1854).
Camille Pissarro, Avenue de l'Opéra, one of the new boulevards created by Napoleon III. The new buildings on the boulevards were required to be all of the same height and same basic facade design, and all faced with cream coloured stone, giving the city center its distinctive harmony.
Franz Xaver Winterhalter Napoleon III
Empress Eugénie in 1853, after her marriage to Napoleon III, by Franz Xaver Winterhalter
Eugénie and the Prince Imperial in 1862
Napoleon III and Abdelkader El Djezairi, the Algerian military leader who led a struggle against the French invasion of Algeria
The French capture of Russian positions around Sevastopol brought the end of the Crimean War.
Napoleon III in 1855
The Battle of Malakoff, 8 September 1855
Napoleon III with the French forces at the Battle of Solferino, which secured the Austrian withdrawal from Italy. He was horrified by the casualties, and ended the war soon after the battle.
Cousin-Montauban leading French forces during the Anglo-French expedition to China
Arrival of Marshal Randon in Algiers in 1857
French capture of Gia Dinh (modern Saigon), 17 February 1859
The Tuileries Palace during the gala soirée of 10 June 1867, hosted by Napoleon III for the sovereigns attending the Paris International Exhibition of 1867.
When Édouard Manet's Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe and other avant-garde paintings were rejected by the Paris Salon of 1863, Napoleon III ordered that the works be displayed, so that the public could judge for themselves.
Napoleon III commissioned Eugène Viollet-le-Duc to restore the medieval town of Carcassonne in 1853.
In 1861, through the direct intervention of the Emperor and the Empress Eugénie, Julie-Victoire Daubié became the first woman to receive a baccalauréat diploma.
Victor Duruy, Napoléon III's Minister of Public Education from 1863 to 1869, created schools for girls in every commune of France and women were admitted for the first time to medical school and to the Sorbonne.
Portrait of Napoleon III in 1868 by Adolphe Yvon
Leopold, Prince of Hohenzollern
At the outbreak of the war, crowds gathered on the Place de la Bastille, chanting "To Berlin!"
Bismarck (right) with Napoleon III after the latter's capitulation
The last photograph of Napoleon III (1872)
Illustration of Napoleon (in Chislehurst in England) on his deathbed
Napoleon III after his death, wood-engraving in The Illustrated London News of 25 January 1873, after a photograph by Mssrs. Downey
Tomb of Napoleon III
Paul Hadol's caricature of Marguerite Bellanger toying with Napoleon
Louis Bonaparte (1778–1846), the younger brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, the King of Holland, and father of Napoleon III
Hortense de Beauharnais (1783–1837), mother to Louis Napoleon in 1808
The lakeside house at Arenenberg, Switzerland, where Louis Napoleon spent much of his youth and exile
Louis Napoleon's 1840 attempt to lead an uprising against Louis-Philippe ended in fiasco and ridicule. He was sentenced to prison for life in the fortress of Ham in Northern France.
The room in the fortress of Ham where Louis Napoleon studied, wrote, and conducted scientific experiments. He later often referred to what he had learned at "the University of Ham".
After his escape from prison, he had a brief affair with Rachel (1823–1858), the most famous French actress of the time, during her London tours.
Louis Napoleon met the wealthy heiress Harriet Howard in 1846. She became his mistress and helped fund his return to France.
The 1848 presidential campaign pitted Louis Napoleon against General Cavaignac, the Minister of Defense of the Provisional Government, and the leaders of the socialists.
Louis Napoleon's essay, "The Extinction of Pauperism", advocating reforms to help the working class, was widely circulated during the 1848 election campaign.
D'Allonville's cavalry patrolled Paris during Napoleon's 1851 coup. Three to four hundred people were killed in street fighting after the coup d'état.
A caricature of Victor Hugo by Honoré Daumier from July 1849. Hugo supported Louis Napoleon in the election for president, but after the coup d'état went into exile and became his most relentless and eloquent enemy.
Georges-Eugène Haussmann and Napoleon III make official the annexation of eleven communes around Paris to the city. The annexation increased the size of the city from twelve to the present twenty arrondissements.
The Paris Opera was the centerpiece of Napoleon III's new Paris. The architect, Charles Garnier, described the style simply as "Napoleon the Third".
The Bois de Boulogne, transformed by Napoleon III between 1852 and 1858, was designed to give a place for relaxation and recreation to all the classes of Paris.
Photo of the Emperor

Its chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, had ambitions for Prussia to lead a unified Germany.

The German Confederation in 1815

German Confederation

Association of 39 predominantly German-speaking sovereign states in Central Europe.

Association of 39 predominantly German-speaking sovereign states in Central Europe.

The German Confederation in 1815
Boundaries (in red) of the German Confederation with Prussia in blue, Austria in yellow, and the rest of the German states in grey
The German Confederation in 1815
Chart: functioning of the German Confederation
Monarchs of the member states of the German Confederation (with the exception of the Prussian king) meeting at Frankfurt in 1863
Austrian chancellor and foreign minister Klemens von Metternich dominated the German Confederation from 1815 until 1848.
The University of Berlin in 1850
Zollverein and German unification
War ensign of the Reichsflotte
Naval jack of the Reichsflotte
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.
Map of the German Confederation

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).

Prussia

Historically prominent German state that originated in 1525 with a duchy centered on the region of Prussia on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea.

Historically prominent German state that originated in 1525 with a duchy centered on the region of Prussia on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea.

The Kingdom of Prussia at its territorial peak in 1870
Situation after the conquest in the late 13th century. Areas in purple under control of the Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights
The Kingdom of Prussia at its territorial peak in 1870
The Teutonic Order (orange) following the Second Peace of Thorn (1466)
The Kingdom of Prussia at its territorial peak in 1870
Prussian Homage by Jan Matejko. After admitting the dependence of Prussia to the Polish Crown, Albert of Prussia receives Ducal Prussia as a fief from King Sigismund I the Old of Poland in 1525
The "Great Elector" and his wife
Frederick I, King in Prussia
King Frederick William I, "the Soldier-King"
King Frederick II, "the Great"
Growth of Brandenburg-Prussia, 1600–1795
King Frederick William III
King Frederick William IV
Otto von Bismarck
Expansion of Prussia, 1807–1871
Emperor Wilhelm I
Prussia in the German Empire from 1871 to 1918
Kaiser Wilhelm II
Federal states of the Weimar Republic, with Prussia in light gray. After World War I the Provinces of Posen and West Prussia came largely to the 2nd Polish Republic; Posen-West Prussia and the West Prussia district were formed from the remaining parts.
Adolf Hitler
Paul von Hindenburg
Map of the current states of Germany (in dark green) that are completely or mostly situated inside the old borders of Imperial Germany's Kingdom of Prussia
Prussian King's Crown (Hohenzollern Castle Collection)
In 1649, Kursenieki settlements along the Baltic coastline of East Prussia spanned from Memel (Klaipėda) to Danzig (Gdańsk).
The Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin
King Frederick William I of Prussia welcoming the expelled Salzburg Protestants
The Berlin Cathedral {{circa|1900}}
Prussian deportations (Polenausweisungen) were the mass expulsions of ethnic Poles between 1885 and 1890.

In 1871, owing to the efforts of Prussian Minister-President Otto von Bismarck, most German principalities were united into the German Empire under Prussian leadership, although this was considered to be a "Lesser Germany" because Austria and Switzerland were not included.

The Emperor in 1884

William I, German Emperor

King of Prussia from 2 January 1861 and German Emperor from 18 January 1871 until his death in 1888.

King of Prussia from 2 January 1861 and German Emperor from 18 January 1871 until his death in 1888.

The Emperor in 1884
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
Coronation of William as King of Prussia at Königsberg Castle in 1861
William on a black horse with his suite, Bismarck, Moltke, Roon, and others, watching the Battle of Königgrätz, 1866
William in a hussar's uniform, in a painting by Emil Hünten
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
Caricature of William I by Thomas Nast which appeared in The Fight at Dame Europa's School by Henry William Pullen
William's funeral procession, 1888
10 goldmark depicting William and his titles
Monogram of William I

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.

Military clashes in Schleswig/Slesvig

Second Schleswig War

The second military conflict over the Schleswig-Holstein Question of the nineteenth century.

The second military conflict over the Schleswig-Holstein Question of the nineteenth century.

Military clashes in Schleswig/Slesvig
Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg before the war
Statue of Otto von Bismarck in Schleswig-Holstein
The fighting at Sankelmark in February 1864
Austrian illustration of the battle for Königshügel
The Battle of Dybbøl by Jørgen Valentin Sonne, 1871
The storming of Dybbøl
Danish Infantry Regiment repels attack by Austrian hussars
The storming of Als by the Prussians
German illustration of Prussian troops storming the fortifications at Dybbøl (Düppeler Schanze)
Danish illustration showing the Austrian steam frigate Schwarzenberg burning
Partition Plans 1864
Map of the territorial changes, without the royal Danish enclaves (German)
Austrian veterans from the Second Schleswig War of 1864; photograph taken in 1914 from an excursion they took to Vejle in Denmark the same year.
The Infirmary Flag (Ambulanceflaget), adopted in 1850 and replaced in 1870 by the Red Cross.

(See Unification of Germany.) Prussia and Austria took over the respective administration of Schleswig and Holstein under the Gastein Convention of 14 August 1865.