Otto von Bismarck

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Otto von Bismarck
Chancellor of the German Empire
In office
21 March 1871 – 20 March 1890
MonarchWilhelm I
Friedrich III
Wilhelm II
DeputyOtto Graf zu Stolberg-Wernigerode
Karl Heinrich von Boetticher
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byLeo von Caprivi
Minister President of Prussia
In office
9 November 1873 – 20 March 1890
MonarchWilhelm I
Friedrich III
Wilhelm II
Preceded byAlbrecht von Roon
Succeeded byLeo von Caprivi
In office
23 September 1862 – 1 January 1873
MonarchWilhelm I
Preceded byAdolf zu Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen
Succeeded byAlbrecht von Roon
Chancellor of the North German Confederation
In office
1 July 1867 – 21 March 1871
PresidentWilhelm I
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
23 November 1862 – 20 March 1890
Prime MinisterHimself
Albrecht von Roon
Preceded byAlbrecht von Bernstorff
Succeeded byLeo von Caprivi
Personal details
Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck-Schönhausen

1 April 1815
Schönhausen, Kreis Jerichow II, Province of Saxony, Prussia
(now Saxony-Anhalt, Germany)
Died30 July 1898 (aged 83)
Friedrichsruh, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Political partyIndependent
Johanna von Puttkamer
(m. 1847; died 1894)
ParentsKarl Wilhelm Ferdinand von Bismarck (1771–1845)
Wilhelmine Luise Mencken (1789–1839)
Alma materUniversity of Göttingen
University of Berlin
University of Greifswald[1]
Bismarck-Monument, Hamburg

Prince Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck-Schönhausen Duke of Lauenburg, (1 April 1815 – 30 July 1898), was an aristocrat and statesman of the 19th century in Europe. As Prime Minister of Prussia from 1862 to 1890, he was most responsible for the uniting most of the many independent German countries into the new German Empire in 1871 and became its first chancellor until 1890.

He was Graf von Bismarck-Schönhausen (Count Bismarck-Schönhausen) in 1865. In 1871, he was Fürst von Bismarck (Prince Bismarck). In 1890, he became the Herzog von Lauenburg (Duke of Lauenburg). At first, he did not want to become a duke, but he accepted the title later.

Unification of Germany[change | change source]

In the 1860s, he engineered a series of wars that lasted until 1871 and unified most of the German states except Austria into the new German Empire, which was led by Prussia. He "remained undisputed world champion at the game of multilateral diplomatic chess for almost twenty years after 1871, [and] devoted himself exclusively, and successfully, to maintaining peace between the powers".[2]

Bismarck conducted wars against Denmark (1864), Austria (1866) and France (1871) to make Prussia more powerful. The Franco-Prussian War was very significant in the long run. France lost AlsaceLorraine during the German victory, which was led by the brilliant Helmuth von Moltke. The war also made Germany the most important country in Central Europe.

After the death of Kaiser Wilhelm I and that of his son, Frederick III, who briefly replaced him in 1888, a new era began without Bismarck and Moltke, with Wilhelm II now on the throne.

Policy at home[change | change source]

Bismarck was very conservative, strongly connected to the monarchy and opposed to democracy. His most important goal was to make Prussia stronger, which he did by unifying Germany. Bismarck tried to stop the rise of socialism and to reduce the power of the Catholic Church.

One way to stop socialism was to make the working class happy. Bismarck did so by introducing many social reforms like public health and accident insurance, as well as pensions for old people. His 's pension scheme was the forerunner of the modern welfare state in Germany, and many other countries started similar systems.[3]

References[change | change source]

  1. Steinberg, Jonathan (2011-06-01). Bismarck: A Life. p. 51. ISBN 9780199782529.
  2. Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire: 1875–1914 (1987), p. 312.
  3. Steinberg, Jonathan. 2011. Bismarck: a life Oxford University Press. p. 8, 424, 444.