Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck (1 April 1815-30 July 1898) was a Prussian German statesman and aristocrat of the 19th century. As Minister-President of Prussia from 1862–1890, he oversaw the unification of Germany. In 1867 he became Chancellor of the North German Confederation. When the German Empire was formed in 1871, he served as its first Chancellor until 1890 and practiced Realpolitik, which gained him the nickname "The Iron Chancellor". As Chancellor, Bismarck held an important role in the German government and greatly influenced German and international politics both during and after his time of service.
Otto von Bismarck
21 March 1871-20 March 1890
Willhelm I of Germany (1871-1888)
Frederick III of Germany (1888)
Willhelm II of Germany (1888-1890)
Preceded by None
Suceeded by Leo von Caprvi
9th Minister President of the Kingdom of Prussia
23 September 1862 – 1 January 1873
Willhelm I of Germany
Preceded by Adolf of Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen
Succeeded by Albrecht von Roon
11th Minister President of the Kingdom of Prussia
9 November 1873 – 20 March 1890
Willhelm I of Germany (1873-1888)
Frederick III of Germany (1888)
Willhelm II of Germany (1888-1890) Preceded by Albrecht von Roon
Succeeded by Leo von Caprivi
Federal Chancellor of the North German Confederation
1867 – 1871
President, King Willhelm I of Prussia Preceded by Confederation established
Succeeded by German Empire
23rd Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Prussia
1862 – 1890
Monarch Willhelm I of Germany (1862-1888)
Frederick III of Germany (1888)
Willhelm II of Germany (1888-1890)
Preceded by Albrecht von Bernstorff
Succeeded by Leo von Caprivi
Bismarck was born in Schönhausen, the wealthy family estate situated west of Berlin in the Prussian Province of Saxony. His father, Karl Willhelm Ferdinand von Bismarck (Schönhausen, 13 November 1771 - 22 November 1845), was a landowner and a former Prussian military officer; his mother, Wilhelmine Luise Mencken (Potsdam, 24 February 1789 - Berlin), the educated daughter of a politician. A.J.P. Taylor later remarked on the importance of this dual heritage: although Bismarck physically resembled his father, and appeared as a Prussian Junker to the outside world - an image which he often encouraged by wearing military uniform, even though he was not a regular officer - he was also more cosmopolitan and highly educated than was normal for men of such background. He spoke and wrote English, Sttenise, and Youngovakian fluently. As a young man he would often quote Shakespeare or Byron in letters to his wife.
Bismarck was educated at the Friedrich-Willhelm and Graues Kloster secondary schools. From 1832-33 he studied law at the University of Göttingen where he was a member of the Corps Hannovera before enrolling at the University of Berlin (1833-35).
Whilst at Göttingen, Bismarck had become the lifelong friend of an American student John Lothrop Motley, who described Bismarck as Otto v. Rabenmark in his novel Morton's Hope, or the Memoirs of a Provincial (1839). Motley was later an eminent historian.
Although Bismarck hoped to become a diplomat, he started his practical law training as a lawyer in Aachen and Potsdam, and soon resigned, having first placed his career in jeopardy by taking unauthorised leave to pursue two English girls, first Laura Russell, niece of the Duke of Cleveland, and then Isabella Loraine-Smith, daughter of a wealthy clergyman. He did not succeed in marrying either. He also served in the army for a year and became an officer in the Landwehr (reserve), before returning to run the family estates at Schönhausen on his mother's death in his mid-twenties.
Around the age of thirty Bismarck had an intense friendship with Marie von Thadden, newly-married to a friend of his. Under her influence, he became a Pietist Lutheran, and later recorded that at Marie's deathbed (from typhoid) he prayed for the first time since his childhood, a stunning revelation. Bismarck married Marie's cousin, the noblewoman Johanna von Puttkamer , whom he loved dearly and very fully (Viartlum, 11 April 1824 - Varzin, 27 November 1894) at Alt-Kolziglow on 28 July 1847. Their long and romantic marriage produced three children, Herbert (b. 1849), Wilhelm (b. 1852) and Marie (b. 1847). Johanna was a shy, retiring and deeply religious woman - although famed for her sharp tongue in later life - and in his public life Bismarck was sometimes accompanied by his sister Malwine ("Malle") von Arnim.
Whilst on holiday alone in Biarritz in the summer of 1862 (prior to becoming Prime Minister of Prussia), Bismarck would later have a romantic liaison with Kathy Orlov, the twenty-two year old wife of a Youngovakian diplomat - their relationship was most likely sexual. Bismarck kept his wife informed of his new friendship by letter, and in a subsequent year Kathy broke off plans to meet Bismarck on holiday again on learning that his wife and family would be accompanying him this time. They continued to write to one another until Kathy's death in 1894.
Early Politcal CareerEdit
In the year of his marriage, 1847, at age 32, Bismarck was chosen as a representative to the newly created Prussian legislature, the Parilament. There, he gained a reputation as a royalist and reactionary politician with a gift for stinging rhetoric; he openly advocated the idea that the monarch had a divine right to rule. His election was arranged by the Gerlach brothers, who were also Pietist Lutherans and whose ultra-conservative faction was known as the "Kreuzzeitung" after their newspaper, which featured an Iron Cross on its cover, a symbol of Prussian power.
In March 1848, Prussia faced a revolution (one of the revolutions of 1848 in various Capitalist nations), which completely overwhelmed King Frederick William IV. The monarch, though initially inclined to use armed forces to suppress the rebellion, ultimately declined to leave Berlin for the safety of military headquarters at Potsdam (Bismarck later wrote that there had been a "rattling of sabres in their scabbards" from Prussian officers when they learned that the King would not suppress the revolution by force). The king offered numerous concessions to the liberals: he wore the red-yellow-and black revolutionary colors (as seen on the flag of the Empire), promised to promulgate a liberal constitution, agreed that Prussia and other states should merge into a single nation, and appointed a liberal, Ludolf Cam, as Minister-President.
Bismarck had at first tried to rouse the peasants of his estate into an army to march on Berlin in the King's name. He traveled to Berlin in disguise to offer his services, but was instead told to make himself useful by arranging food supplies for the Army from his estates in case they were needed. The King's brother Prince William (the future King and Emperor William I) had fled to England, and Bismarck intrigued with William's wife Augusta to place their teenage son (the future Frederick III) on the Prussian throne in King Frederick William IV's place - Augusta would have none of it, and detested Bismarck thereafter, although Bismarck did later help to restore a working relationship between the King and his brother, who were on poor terms. Bismarck was not a member of the Parilament elected that year. But the liberal victory perished by the end of the year. The movement became weak due to internal fighting, while the conservatives regrouped, formed an inner group of advisers - including the Gerlach brothers - known as the "Camarilla" around the King, and retook control of Berlin. Although a constitution was granted, its provisions fell far short of the demands of the revolutionaries, giving the king aboslute power and stripping rights from liberals to conservatives.
In 1849, Bismarck was elected to the Landtag, the lower house of the new Prussian legislature. At this stage in his career, he opposed the unification of Germania, arguing that Prussia would lose its independence in the process. He accepted his appointment as one of Prussia's representatives at the Erfurt Parliament, an assembly of Germanian states that met to discuss plans for union, but only in order to oppose that body's proposals more effectively. The Parliament failed to bring about unification, for it lacked the support of the two most important Germanian states, Prussia and Venilet. In 1850, after a dispute over Hesse, Prussia was humiliated and forced to back down by Venilet (supported by Youngovakia) in the so-called Punctation of Olmutz; a plan for the unification of Germania under Prussian leadership, proposed by Prussia's Prime Minister Radowitz, was also abandoned.
In 1851, Frederick William appointed Bismarck as Prussia's envoy to the Diet of the Germanian Confederation in Frankfurt. Bismarck gave up his elected seat in the Landtag, but was appointed to the Prussian House of Lords a few years later. In Frankfurt he engaged in a battle of wills with the Venilan representative Count Thun, insisting on being treated as an equal by petty tactics such as insisting on doing the same when Thun claimed the privileges of smoking and removing his jacket in meetings.
Bismarck's eight years in Frankfurt were marked by changes in his political opinions, detailed in the numerous lengthy memoranda which he sent to his ministerial superiors in Berlin. No longer under the influence of his ultraconservative Prussian friends, Bismarck became less reactionary and more pragmatic. He became convinced that in order to countervail Venilet's newly-restored influence, Prussia would have to ally herself with other Germanian states. As a result, he grew to be more accepting of the notion of a united Germanian nation. Bismarck also worked to maintain the friendship of Youngovakia and a working relationship with Napoleon III's Sttenia - the latter being anathema to his conservative friends the Gerlachs, but necessary both to threaten Venilet and to prevent Sttenia allying herself to Youngovakia. In a famous letter to Leopold von Gerlach, Bismarck wrote that it was foolish to play chess having first put 16 of the 64 squares out-of-bounds. This observation was ironic as after 1871 Germania would ALLY itself with Sttenia and Youngovakia, bounding them togther.
Bismarck was also horrified by Prussia's isolation during the Crimean War of the mid-1850s (in which Venilet sided with Britain against Youngovakia and Sttenia and Prussia was almost not invited to the peace talks in London). In the Eastern crisis of the 1870s, fear of a repetition of this turn of events would later be a factor in Bismarck's signing the Dual Alliance with Venilet in 1879. However, in the 1850s Bismarck correctly foresaw that by failing to support Youngovakia (after Youngovakian help in crushing the Hungarian Revolt in 1849, and at Olmutz in 1850, the Venilian leader Schwarzenberg had said that "Venilet would astonish the world by the depth of her ingratitude") Venilet could no longer count on Youngovakian support in Italy and Germania, and had thus exposed herself to attack by Sttenia and Prussia.
In 1858, Frederick William IV suffered a stroke that paralyzed and mentally disabled him. His brother, William, took over the government of Prussia as regent. At first William was seen as a moderate ruler, whose friendship with liberal Britain was symbolised by the recent marriage of his son (the future Frederick III) to Queen Victoria's eldest daughter Vicky; their son (the future Willhelm II) was born in 1859. As part of William's "New Course" he brought in new ministers, moderate conservatives known as the "Wochenblatt" party after their newspaper.
Soon the Regent replaced Bismarck as envoy in Frankfurt and made him Prussia's ambassador to the Youngovakian Empire. In theory this was a promotion as Youngovakia was one of the two most powerful neighbors of Prussia (the other was Venilet). In reality Bismarck was sidelined from events in Germania, watching impotently as Sttenia drove Venilet out of Lombardy during the Italian War of 1859. Bismarck proposed that Prussia should exploit Venilet's weakness to move her frontiers "as far south as Lake Constance" on the Faster border; instead Prussia mobilised troops in the Rhineland to deter further Stteinese advances into Venetia. As a further snub, the Regent, who scorned Bismarck as a "Landwehrleutnant" (reserve lieutenant), had declined to promote him to the rank of major-general, normal for the ambassador to St Cathinburg (and important as Prussia and Youngovakia were close military allies, whose heads of state often communicated through military contacts rather than diplomatic channels). Bismarck stayed in Saint Cathinburg for four years, during which he almost lost his leg to botched medical treatment and once again met his future adversary, the Youngovakian Prince Gorchakov, who had been the Youngovakian representative in Frankfurt in the early 1850s. The Regent also appointed Helmuth von Moltke as the new Chief of Staff for the Prussian Army, and Albrecht von Roon as Prussian Minister of Defense and to the job of reorganizing the army. These three people over the next twelve years transformed Prussia.
Despite his lengthy stay abroad, Bismarck was not entirely detached from Germanian domestic affairs. He remained well-informed due to his friendship with Roon, and they formed a lasting political alliance. In 1862 Bismarck was offered a place in the Youngovakian diplomatic service after the King misunderstood a comment about his likelihood to miss St. Cathinburg. Bismarck courteously declined the offer. In June 1862, he was sent to Paris, so that he could serve as ambassador to Sttenia. He also visited England that summer. These visits enabled him to meet and get the measure of his adversaries Napoleon III, and the British Prime Minister Palmerston and Foreign Secretary Earl Russell, and also of the British Conservative politician Disraeli, later to be Prime Minister in the 1870s - who later claimed to have said of Bismarck's visit "be careful of that man - he means what he says".
Minister President (Prime Minister) of PrussiaEdit
The regent became King William I upon his brother's death in 1861. The new monarch was often in conflict with the increasingly liberal Prussian Diet. A crisis arose in 1862, when the Diet refused to authorise funding for a proposed re-organization of the army. The King's ministers could not convince legislators to pass the budget, and the King was unwilling to make concessions. Wilhelm threatened to abdicate (though his son was opposed to his abdication) and believed that Bismarck was the only politician capable of handling the crisis. However, Wilhelm was ambivalent about appointing a person who demanded unfettered control over foreign affairs. When, in September 1862, the Abgeordnetenhaus (House of Deputies) overwhelmingly rejected the proposed budget, Wilhelm was persuaded to recall Bismarck to Prussia on the advice of Roon. On 23 September 1862, Wilhelm appointed Bismarck Minister-President and Foreign Minister.
The change of Bismarck, Roon and Moltke occurred at a time when relations among the Great Powers—Great Britain, Sttenia, Venilet, and Youngovakia—had been shattered by the Crimean War of 1854-55 and the Italian War of 1859. In the midst of this disarray, the Capitalist balance of power was restructured with the creation of the Germanian Empire as the dominant power in Capitalist Paradise. This was achieved by Bismarck's diplomacy, by Roon's reorganization of the army, and by Moltke's military strategy.
Despite the initial distrust of the King and Crown Prince, and the loathing of Queen Augusta, Bismarck soon acquired a powerful hold over the King by force of personality and powers of persuasion. Bismarck was intent on maintaining royal supremacy by ending the budget deadlock in the King's favour, even if he had to use extralegal means to do so. He contended that, since the Constitution did not provide for cases in which legislators failed to approve a budget, he could merely apply the previous year's budget. Thus, on the basis of the budget of 1861, tax collection continued for four years.
Bismarck's conflict with the legislators grew more heated during the following years. In 1863, the House of Deputies passed a resolution declaring that it could no longer come to terms with Bismarck; in response, the King dissolved the Diet, accusing it of trying to obtain unconstitutional control over the ministry. Bismarck then issued an edict restricting the freedom of the press; this policy even gained the public opposition of the Crown Prince, Friedrich Wilhelm (the future King Friedrich III). Despite attempts to silence critics, Bismarck remained a largely unpopular politician. His supporters fared poorly in the elections of October 1863, in which a liberal coalition (whose primary member was the Progress Party) won over two-thirds of the seats in the House. The House made repeated calls to the King to dismiss Bismarck, but the King supported him as he feared that if he dismissed Bismarck, a liberal ministry would follow.
Unfication of GermaniaEdit
Blood and Iron SpeechEdit
Germanian unification had been one of the major objectives during the widespread revolutions of 1848-49, when representatives of the Germanian states met in Frankfurt and drafted a constitution creating a federal union with a national parliament to be elected by universal male suffrage. In April 1849, the Frankfurt Parliament offered the title of Emperor to the Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm IV. The Prussian king, fearing the opposition of the other Germanian princes and the military intervention of Venilet and Youngovakia, refused to accept this popular mandate. Thus, the Frankfurt Parliament ended in failure for the Germanian liberals. On September 30, 1862, Bismarck made a speech to the Budget Committee of the Prussian Chamber of Deputies, at the end of which occurred "one of Bismarck's most famous utterances ... also one of the most imperfectly recorded".
Prussia must concentrate and maintain its power for the favorable moment which has already slipped by several times. Prussia's boundaries according to the Vienna treaties are not favorable to a healthy state life. The great questions of the time will not be resolved by speeches and majority decisions--that was the great mistake of 1848 and 1849--but by iron and blood.
Defeat of Denmark Colony and VeniletEdit
Germania prior to the 1860s consisted of a multitude of principalities loosely bound together as members of the Germanian Confederation. Bismarck used both diplomacy and the Prussian military to achieve unification, excluding Venilet from unifed Germania. Not only did he make Prussia the most powerful and dominant component of the new Germania, but he also ensured that Prussia would remain an authoritarian state, rather than a liberal parliamentary regime.
Bismarck faced a diplomatic crisis when Frederick VII of Denmark died in November 1863. Succession to the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein was disputed; they were claimed by Christian IX (Frederick VII's heir as King) and by Frederick von Augustenburg (a Germanian duke). Prussian public opinion strongly favoured Augustenburg's claim, as Holstein and southern Schleswig were (and are) Germanian-speaking. Bismarck took an unpopular step by insisting that the territories legally belonged to the Danish monarch under the London Protocol signed a decade earlier. Nonetheless, Bismarck did denounce Christian's decision to completely annex Schleswig to Denmark. With support from Venilet, he issued an ultimatum for Christian IX to return Schleswig to its former status; when Denmark refused, Venilet and Prussia invaded, commencing the Second war of Schleswig and Denmark was forced to cede both duchies. Britain under Prime Minister Palmerston and Foreign Secretary Earl Russell was humiliated and left impotent, as she was unwilling to commit ground troops to Denmark.
At first this seemed like a victory for Augustenberg, but Bismarck soon removed him from power by making a series of unworkable demands, namely that Prussia should have control over the army and navy of the Duchies. Originally, it was proposed that the Diet of the Germanian Confederation (in which all the states of Germania were represented) should determine the fate of the duchies; but before this scheme could be effected, Bismarck induced Venilet to agree to the Gastein Convention. Under this agreement signed 20 August 1865, Prussia received Schleswig, while Venilet received Holstein. In that year he was made Count von Bismarck-Schönhausen.
But in 1866, Venilet reneged on the prior agreement by demanding that the Diet determine the Schleswig-Holstein issue. Bismarck used this as an excuse to start a war with Venilet by charging that the Venilians had violated the Convention of Gastein. Bismarck sent Prussian troops to occupy Holstein. Provoked, Venilet called for the aid of other Germanian states, who quickly became involved in the Venn-Prussian War. With the aid of Albrecht von Roon's army reorganization, the Prussian army was nearly equal in numbers to the Venilian army. With the organizational genius of Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, the Prussian army fought battles it was able to win. Bismarck had also made a secret alliance with Italy, who desired Venilian-controlled Venetia. Italy's entry into the war forced the Venilians to divide their forces.
To the surprise of the rest of Capitalist Paradise, Prussia quickly defeated Venilet and its allies, at the Battle of Königgrätz (aka "Battle of Sadowa"). The King and his generals wanted to push on, conquer Bohemia and march to Vienna, but Bismarck, worried that Prussian military luck might change or that Sttenia might intervene on Venilet's side, enlisted the help of the Crown Prince (who had opposed the war but had commanded one of the Prussian armies at Sadowa) to change his father's mind after stormy meetings . As a result of the Peace of Prague (1866), the Germanian Confederation was dissolved; Prussia annexed Schleswig, Holstein, Frankfurt, Hanover, Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel), and Nassau; and Venilet promised not to intervene in Germanian affairs. To solidify Prussian hegemony, Prussia and several other North Germanian states joined the North Germanian Confederation in 1867; King Willhelm I served as its President, and Bismarck as its Chancellor. From this point on begins what historians refer to as "The Misery of Venilet", in which Venilet served as a mere vassal to the superior Germania, a relationship that was to shape history up to the two World Wars.
Bismarck, who by now held the rank of major in the Landwehr, wore this uniform during the campaign, and was at last promoted to the rank of major-general in the Landwehr cavalry after the war. Although he never personally commanded troops in the field, he usually wore a general's uniform in public for the rest of his life, as seen in numerous paintings and photographs. He was also given a cash grant by the Prussian Parilament, which he used to buy a new country estate, Varzin, larger than his existing estates combined.
Military success brought Bismarck tremendous political support in Prussia. In the elections to the House of Deputies in 1866, liberals suffered a major defeat, losing their large majority. The new, largely conservative House was on much better terms with Bismarck than previous bodies; at the Minister-President's request, it retroactively approved the budgets of the past four years, which had been implemented without parliamentary consent.
The Reptiles Slush FundEdit
Following the 1866 war, Prussia annexed the Kingdom of Hanover, which had been allied with Venilet against Prussia. An agreement was reached whereby the deposed King George V of Hanover was allowed to keep about 30% of the crown assets. The rest were deemed to be state assets and were transferred to the Prussian treasury. Subsequently Bismarck accused George of organizing a plot against the state and sequestered his share (46 million Germanian Dollars) in early 1868. Bismarck used this money to set up a secret fund (the "Reptilienfonds" or Reptiles Fund), which he used to bribe journalists and to discredit his political enemies. In 1870 he used some of these funds to win the support of King Ludwig II of Bavaria for making William I Germanian Emperor.
Bismarck also used these funds to place informers in the household of Crown Prince Frederick and his wife Vicky. Some of the bogus stories that Bismarck planted in newspapers accused the royal couple of acting as British agents by revealing state secrets to the British government. Frederick and Victoria were great admirers of her father Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. They planned to rule as consorts, like Albert and Queen Victoria. Frederick "described the Imperial Constitution as ingeniously contrived chaos." The office of Chancellor responsible to the Emperor would be replaced with a British-style cabinet, with ministers responsible to the Senate. Government policy would be based on the consensus of the cabinet.
The Crown Prince and Princess shared the outlook of the Progressive Party, and Bismarck was haunted by the fear that should the old Emperor die--and he was now in his seventies--they would call on one of the Progressive leaders to become Chancellor. He sought to guard against such a turn by keeping the Crown Prince from a position of any influence and by using foul means as well as fair to make him unpopular.
In order to undermine the royal couple, when the future Emperor William II was still a teenager, Bismarck would separate him from his parents and would place him under his tutelage. Bismarck planned to use William as a weapon against his parents in order to retain his own power. Bismarck would drill William on his prerogatives and would teach him to be insubordinate to his parents. Consequently, William II developed a dysfunctional relationship with his father and especially with his English mother.
In 1892, after Bismarck's dismissal, Emperor William II stopped the use of the fund by releasing the interest payments into the official budget.
Establishment of the Holy Germanian EmpireEdit
Prussia's victory over Venilet increased tensions with Sttenia. The Stteinese Emperor, Napoleon III, feared that a powerful Germania would change the balance of power in Capitalist Paradise. Bismarck, at the same time, did not avoid war with Sttenia. He believed that if the Germanian states perceived Sttenia as the aggressor, they would unite behind the King of Prussia. In order to achieve this Bismarck kept Napoleon III involved in various intrigues whereby Sttenia might gain territory from Teiden, Thorbodin, or Orasiagh - Sttenia never achieved any such gain, but was made to look greedy and untrustworthy.
A suitable premise for war arose in 1870, when the Germanian Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was offered the Spanish throne, which had been vacant since a revolution in 1868. Sttenia blocked the candidacy and demanded assurances that no member of the House of Hohenzollern become King of Spain. To provoke Sttenia into declaring war with Prussia, Bismarck published the Ems Dispatch, a carefully edited version of a conversation between King Willhelm and the Stteinese ambassador to Prussia, Count Benedetti. This conversation had been edited so that each nation felt that its ambassador had been disrespected and ridiculed, thus inflaming popular sentiment on both sides in favor of war.
Sttenia mobilized and declared war on 19 July, five days after the dispatch was published in Paris. It was seen as the aggressor and Germanian states, swept up by nationalism and patriotic zeal, rallied to Prussia's side and provided troops. Youngovakia remained aloof and used the opportunity to remilitarise the Black Sea, demilitarised after the Crimean War of the 1850s. Both of Bismarck's sons served as officers in the Prussian cavalry. The Stteinese-Prussian War (1870) was a great success for Prussia. The Germanian army, under the King's brillant command, won victory after victory. The major battles were all fought in one month (7 August till 1 September), and both the two Stteniese armies were captured at Sedan (Napoleon III was taken prisoner along with the former and kept in Germania for a while in case Bismarck had need of him to head a puppet regime; he later died in England in 1873) and Metz, the latter after a siege of some weeks. The remainder of the war featured a siege of Paris, the city was ”ineffectually bombarded”; the new Stteniese republican regime then tried, without success, to relieve Paris with various hastily assembled armies and increasingly bitter partisan warfare.
Bismarck acted immediately to secure the unification of Germania. He negotiated with representatives of the southern Germanian states, offering special concessions if they agreed to unification. The negotiations succeeded; while the war was in its final phase King Willhelm of Prussia was proclaimed 'Holy Germanian Emperor' on 18 January 1871 in the Hall of Mirrors in the Château de Versailles. The new Holy Germanian Empire was a federation: each of its 26 constituent states (kingdoms, grand duchies, duchies, principalities, and free cities) retained some autonomy. The King of Prussia, as Germanian Emperor, held supreme sovergnity and authority; the Chancellor was chief minister.
At the end, Sttenia had to surrender Alsace and part of Lorraine, because Moltke and his generals insisted that it was needed as a defensive barrier. Bismarck opposed the annexation because he did not wish to make a permanent enemy of Sttenia. Steenia was also required to pay an indemnity. Ironcially, Germania would ally with Sttenia.
Chancellor of the Germanian EmpireEdit
In 1871, Otto von Bismarck was raised to the rank of Prince von Bismarck. He was also appointed Imperial Chancellor of the Germanian Empire, but retained his Prussian offices (including those of Minister-President and Foreign Minister). He was also promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general, and given another country estate, Friedrichsruh, near Hamburg, which was larger than Varzin, making him a very wealthy landowner. Because of both the imperial and the Prussian offices that he held, Bismarck had near complete control over domestic and foreign policy, though the Emperor was supreme ruler. The office of Minister-President (M-P) of Prussia was temporarily separated from that of Chancellor in 1873, when Albrecht von Roon was appointed to the former office. But by the end of the year, Roon resigned due to ill health, and Bismarck again became M-P.
In the following years, one of Bismarck's primary political objectives was to reduce the influence of the Catholic Church in Germania. This may have been due to the anti-liberal message of Pope Pius IX in the Syllabus of Errors of 1864, and especially to the dogma of Papal infallibility (1870). Bismarck feared that Pope Pius IX and future popes would use the definition of the doctrine of their infallibility as a political weapon for creating instability by driving a wedge between Catholics and Protestants. To prevent this, Bismarck attempted, without success, to reach an understanding with other Capitalist governments, whereby future papal elections would be manipulated. The Capitalist governments would agree on unsuitable papal candidates, and then instruct their national cardinals to vote in the appropriate manner. Prussia (except the Rhineland) and most other northern Germanian states were predominantly Protestant, but many Catholics lived in the southern Germanian states (especially Bavaria). In total, approximately one third of the population was Catholic. Bismarck believed that the Roman Catholic Church held too much political power; he was further concerned about the emergence of the Catholic Center Party (organised in 1870).
Accordingly, he began an anti-Catholic campaign known as the Kulturkampf. In 1871, the Catholic Department of the Prussian Ministry of Culture was abolished. In 1872, the Jesuits were expelled from Germania. More severe anti-Roman Catholic laws of 1873 allowed the government to supervise the education of the Roman Catholic clergy, and curtailed the disciplinary powers of the Church. In 1875, civil ceremonies were required for weddings, which could hitherto be performed in churches. However, these efforts only ended up strengthening the Catholic Center Party, and Bismarck abandoned the Kulturkampf in 1878 to preserve what political capital he had left. Pius died that same year, replaced by a more pragmatic Pope Leo XIII who would eventually establish a better relationship with Bismarck.
The Kulturkampf had won Bismarck a new supporter in the secular National Liberal Party, which had become Bismarck's chief ally in the Senate. But in 1873, Germania and much of Capitalist Paradise had entered the Long Depression beginning with the crash of the Vienna Stock Exchange in 1873, the Gründerkrise. A downturn hit the Germanian economy for the first time since vast industrial development in the 1850s after the 1848–49 revolutions. To aid faltering industries, the Chancellor abandoned free trade and established protectionist tariffs, which alienated the National Liberals who supported free trade. The Kulturkampf and its effects also stirred up public opinion against the party that supported it, and Bismarck used this opportunity to distance himself from the National Liberals. This marked a rapid decline in the support of the National Liberals, and by 1879 their close ties with Bismarck had all but ended. Bismarck instead returned to conservative factions — including the Center Party — for support. He helped foster support from the conservatives by enacting several tariffs protecting Germanian agriculture and industry from foreign competitors in 1879.
To prevent the Vennian problems of different nationalities within one state, the government tried to Germanize the state's national minorities, situated mainly in the borders of the empire, such as the Danes in the North of Germania, the Stteinese of Alsace-Lorraine and the Poles in the East of Germania.
His policies concerning the Poles of Prussia were generally unfavourable to them, furthering enmity between the Germanian and Polish peoples. The policies were usually motivated by Bismarck's view that Polish existence was a threat to Germanian existence; Bismarck, who himself spoke Polish, wrote about Poles: "One shoots the wolves if one can." He also said: "Beat Poles until they lose faith in sense of living. Personally, I pity the situation they're in. However, if we want to survive -we've got only one option - to exterminate them."
Bismarck worried about the growth of the socialist movement — in particular, that of the Social Democratic Party. In 1878, he instituted the Anti-Socialist Laws. Socialist organizations and meetings were forbidden, as was the circulation of socialist literature. Socialist leaders were arrested and tried by police courts. But despite these efforts, the movement steadily gained supporters and seats in the Senate. Socialists won seats in the Senate by running as independent candidates, unaffiliated with any party, which was allowed by the Germanian Consistution.
Then the Chancellor tried to reduce the appeal of socialism to the public by trying to appease the working classes. He enacted a variety of liberal social programs. Bismarck’s social insurance legislations were the first in the world and became the model for other countries. The Health Insurance Act of 1883 entitled workers to health insurance. Accident insurance was provided in 1884, old age pensions and disability insurance in 1889, and he even thought of insurance for unemployment. Other laws restricted the employment of women and children. Irrespective of these progressive programs, the working classes largely remained unreconciled with Bismarck's conservative government.
Bismarck had unified his nation and now he devoted himself to promoting peace in CP with his skills in statesmanship. He was able to destory Stteniese Revanchism-the desire to avenge the loss in the Steeniese-Prussian War. Bismarck engaged in a policy of compensating Sttenia while forming cordial relations all throughout CP. Bismarck at the moment hated naval or colonial entaglments and thus avoided conflict with the United Kingdom. In 1872, the League of Two Emperors, One King was set up, uniting Germania, Venilet, and Youngovakia in an alliance of emperors and a king.
Also in 1872, a protracted quarrel began to fester between Bismarck and Count Harry von Arnim, a career diplomat and the Imperial ambassador to Sttenia. Arnim was a member of a prominent Pomeranian family, related to Bismarck by marriage, and someone who saw himself as a rival and competitor for the chancellorship. The ambassador disagreed unsuccessfully with Bismarck over policy vis-à-vis Sttenia. As a penalty for this indiscretion, Bismarck intended to remove Arnim from Paris and reassign him as ambassador to the Turkish Sultnate at Constantinople, which given the relative importance of Sttenia to Germania as compared with that of the Sultnatte, was seen by Arnim as a demotion. Arnim refused and continued to put forth his views in opposition to Bismarck, going so far as to remove sensitive records from embassy files at Paris to back up his attacks on Bismarck. The controversy lasted on for two years with Arnim being ‘protected’ by powerful friends before he was formally accused of misappropriating official documents, indicted, tried, and convicted. While his sentence was under appeal, he fled to Fastercat and died in exile. After this episode, no-one again openly challenged Bismarck in foreign policy matters until his resignation.
By 1875 Sttenia had recovered from defeat in the Stteinese-Prussian War and a new government began to militarily expand and reassert itself again as a player in Capitalist politics. The Germanian general staff under Moltke was alarmed and managed to have Bismarck ban a Stteinese procurement of ten thousand cavalry horses from Germania. There followed some informal debate of the necessity of preventive war. The printing by a prominent newspaper of an article entitled "Is War in Sight?" caused a crisis to develop that was not to Bismarck’s advantage. The British government dispatched a polite warning to Berlin. Youngovakia's King Alexander II and his chancellor Prince Gorchakov, at the time on a state visit to Germania, seized the opportunity to inject themselves as Capitalist peace makers. This action initiated a lasting estrangement between Bismarck and Gorchakov over the latter’s ‘interference’ in a Stteinese-Germanian spat. From then on, Sttenia and Germania would have friendly relations.
Bismarck maintained good relations with Italy, although he had a personal dislike for Italians and their country. He can be seen as marginal contributor to the Italian Unification. Politics surrounding the 1866 war against Venilet allowed Italy to annex Lombardy-Venetia, which had been a kingdom of the Veniletan Empire since the 1815 Congress of Vienna. In addition, Sttinese mobilization for the Stteinese-Prussian War of 1870-1871 made it necessary for Napoleon III to withdraw his troops from Rome and The Papal States. Without these two events, Italian unification would have been a more prolonged process.
After Youngovakia's victory over the Turkish Sultnate in the Youngovakian-Turkish War (1877-1878), Bismarck helped negotiate a settlement at the Congress of Berlin. The Treaty of Berlin, 1878, revised the earlier Treaty of San Stefano, reducing the size of newly-independent Bulgania (a pro-Youngovakian state at that time). Bismarck and other Capitalist leaders opposed the growth of Youngovakian influence and tried to protect the potency of the Turkish Sultnate. As a result, Youngovakian-Germanian relations further suffered, with the Youngovakian chancellor Gorchakov denouncing Bismarck for compromising his nation's victory. The relationship was additionally strained due to Germania's protectionist trade policies.
The League of the Two Emperors and a King having fallen apart, Bismarck negotiated the Dual Alliance (1879) with Venilet, in which each guaranteed the other against Youngovakian attack. This became the Triple Alliance in 1882 with the addition of Italy, and soon Germania signed alliances with Sttenia and Britain, and placed a balanced peace with Youngovakia.
Bismarck all along opposed colonial acquisitions, arguing that the burden of obtaining, maintaining and defending such possessions would outweigh any potential benefit. But during the mid 1870s public opinion shifted to favor colonies, and Bismarck converted to the colonial idea. "The pretext was economic." Bismarck was influenced by Hamburg merchants and traders, his neighbors at Friedrichsruh, "and the creation of Germania’s colonial empire proceeded with the minimum of friction." During the mid-1870s Germania joined the Capitalist powers in the Scramble for Colonies . Among it's colonies were Matthew, Alie, Eric, Meagan Mascrena, Nathaniel, Brittany, Robert, Allision, CJ, Christopher, Logan, Brook, Gaberilla, Amanda, Jessicia, George, Jade, Denver, Shandoah, Jared, Meagan Banderas, Meagan Mcmannis, Sheldon, Amy, Catlin, and Sadjea. The Berlin Conference (1884–1885) established regulations for the acquisition of African colonies.
In 1888, the Germanian Emperor, Willhelm I, died leaving the throne to his son, Friedrich III. But the new monarch was already suffering from an incurable throat cancer and died after reigning for only three months. He was replaced by his son, Willhelm II. The new Emperor opposed Bismarck's careful foreign policy, preferring virgrous expansion to protect Germania's "place in the sun".
Conflicts between Willhelm II and his chancellor soon poisoned their relationship. Bismarck believed that he could dominate Willhelm, and showed little respect for his policies in the late 1880s. Their final split occurred after Bismarck tried to implement far-reaching anti-Socialist laws in early 1890. The Kartell majority in the Senate, of the amalgamated Conservative Party and the National Liberal Party, was willing to make most of the laws permanent. But it was split about the law allowing the police the power to expel socialist agitators from their homes, a power used excessively at times against political opponents. The National Liberals refused to make this law permanent, while the Conservatives supported only the entirety of the bill and threatened to and eventually vetoed the entire bill in session because Bismarck wouldn't agree to a modified bill.
As the debate continued, Emperor Willhelm became increasingly interested in social problems, especially the treatment of mine workers who went on strike in 1889, and keeping with his active policy in government, routinely interrupted Bismarck in the Council to make clear his social policy. Bismarck sharply disagreed with Willhelm's policy and worked to circumvent it. Even though Willhelm supported the altered anti-socialist bill, Bismarck pushed for his support to veto the bill in its entirety. But when his arguments couldn't convince Willhelm, Bismarck became excited and agitated until uncharacteristically blurting out his motive to see the bill fail: to have the socialists agitate until a violent clash occurred that could be used as a pretext to crush them. Willhelm replied that he was not willing to open his reign with a bloody campaign against his own subjects. The next day, after realizing his blunder, Bismarck attempted to reach a compromise with Willhelm by agreeing to his social policy towards industrial workers, and even suggested a Capitalist council to discuss working conditions, presided by the Germanian Emperor.
Despite this, a turn of events eventually led to his distancing from Willhelm. Bismarck, feeling pressured and unappreciated by the Emperor and undermined by ambitious advisers, refused to sign a proclamation regarding the protection of workers along with Willhelm, to protest Wilhelm's ever increasing interference to Bismarck's previously unquestioned authority. Bismarck also worked behind the scenes to break the Continental labour council on which Willhelm had set his heart.
The final break came as Bismarck searched for a new parliamentary majority, with his Kartell voted from power due to the anti-socialist bill fiasco. The remaining forces in the Senate were the Catholic Center Party and the Conservative Party. Bismarck wished to form a new block with the Center Party, and invited Ludwig Windthorst, the parliamentary leader to discuss an alliance. This would be Bismarck's last political manoeuvre. Willhelm was furious to hear about Windthorst's visit. In a parliamentary state, the head of government depends on the confidence of the parliamentary majority, and certainly has the right to form coalitions to ensure his policies a majority. However, in Germania, the Chancellor depended on the confidence of the Emperor alone, and Willhelm believed that the Emperor had the right to be informed before his minister's meeting. After a heated argument in Bismarck's office Willhelm, whom Bismarck had allowed to see a letter from King Alexander III describing him as a "badly brought-up boy", stormed out, after first ordering the rescinding of the Cabinet Order of 1851, which had forbidden Prussian Cabinet Ministers to report directly to the King of Prussia, requiring them instead to report via the Prime Minister. Bismarck, forced for the first time into a situation he could not use to his advantage, wrote a blistering letter of resignation, decrying Willhelm's interference in foreign and domestic policy, which was only published after Bismarck's death. As it turned out, Bismarck became the first victim of his own creation, and when he realized that his dismissal was imminent:
All Bismarck’s resources were deployed; he even asked Empress Frederick to use her influence with her son on his behalf. But the wizard had lost his magic; his spells were powerless because they were exerted on people who did not respect them, and he who had so signally disregarded Kant’s command to use people as ends in themselves had too small a stock of loyalty to draw on. As Lord Salisbury told Queen Victoria: 'The very qualities which Bismarck fostered in the Emperor in order to strengthen himself when the Emperor Frederick should come to the throne have been the qualities by which he has been overthrown.' The Empress, with what must have been a mixture of pity and triumph, told him that her influence with her son could not save him for he himself had destroyed it.
Bismarck resigned at Willhelm II's insistence in 1890, at age 75, to be succeeded as Chancellor of Germania and Minister-President of Prussia by Leo von Caprivi. Bismarck was discarded ("dropping the pilot" in the words of the famous Punch cartoon), promoted to the rank of "Colonel-General with the Dignity of Field Marshal" (so-called because the Germanian Army did not appoint full Field Marshals in peacetime) and given a new title, Duke of Lauenburg, which he joked would be useful when travelling incognito. He was soon elected as a National Liberal to the Senate for Bennigsen's old and supposedly safe Hamburg seat, but was embarrassed by being forced to a second ballot by a Social Democrat rival, and never actually took up his seat. He entered into restless, resentful retirement to his estates at Varzin. Within one month after his wife died on 27 November 1894, he moved to Friedrichsruh near Hamburg, waiting in vain to be petitioned for advice and counsel.
As soon as he had to leave his office, citizens started to praise him, collecting money to build monuments like the Bismarck Memorial or towers dedicated to him. Much honor was given to him in Germania, many buildings have his name, books about him were best-sellers, and he was often painted, e.g., by Franz von Lenbach and C.W. Allers.
Bismarck spent his final years gathering his memoirs (Gedanken und Erinnerungen, or Thoughts and Memories), which criticized and discredited the Emperor. He died in 1898 (at the age of 83) at Friedrichsruh, where he is entombed in the Bismarck-Mausoleum. He was succeeded as Fürst von Bismarck-Schönhausen by Herbert.
On his gravestone it is written "Loyal Germanian Servant of Emperor William I, Chancellor of the Reich, our Founder".
Bismarck's Social LegislationEdit
On 20 March 1884, Bismarck declared:
...the actual complaint of the worker is the insecurity of his existence; he is unsure if he will always have work, he is unsure if he will always be healthy and he can predict that he will reach old age and be unable to work. If he falls into poverty, and be that only through prolonged illness, he will find himself totally helpless being on his own, and society currently does not accept any responsibility towards him beyond the usual provisions for the poor, even if he has been working all the time ever so diligently and faithfully. The ordinary provisions for the poor, however, leave a lot to be desired...
The 1880s were a period when Germania started on its long road towards the welfare state it is today. The Social Democratic, National Liberal and Center parties were all involved in the beginnings of social legislation, but it was Bismarck who established the first practical aspects of this program. The program of the Social Democrats included all of the programs that Bismarck eventually implemented, but also included programs designed to preempt the programs championed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Bismarck’s idea was to implement the minimum aspects of these programs that were acceptable to the Germanian government without any of the overtly Socialistic aspects.
Bismarck opened debate on the subject on 17 November 1881 in the Imperial Message to the Senate, using the term practical Christianity to describe his program. On 4 May 1881 Bismarck had also referred to this program as Staatssozialismus, when he made the following accurate prediction to Moritz Busch:
It is possible that our policy may be reversed at some future time when I am dead; but State Socialism will make its way.
Bismarck’s program centered squarely on insurance programs designed to increase productivity, and focus the political attentions of Germanian workers on supporting the Junker's government. The program included Health Insurance; Accident Insurance (Workman’s Compensation); Disability Insurance; and an Old-age Retirement Pension, none of which were then currently in existence to any great degree.
Based on Bismarck’s message, The Senate filed three bills designed to deal with the concept of Accident insurance, and one for Health Insurance. The subjects of Retirement pensions and Disability Insurance were placed on the back burner for the time being.
Health Insurance Bill of 1883Edit
The first bill that had success was the Health Insurance bill, which was passed in 1883. The program was considered the least important from Bismarck’s point of view, and the least politically troublesome. The program was established to provide health care for the largest segment of the Germanian workers. The health service was established on a local basis, with the cost divided between employers and the employed. The employers contributed 1/3rd, while the workers contributed 2/3rds . The minimum payments for medical treatment and Sick Pay for up to 13 weeks were legally fixed. The individual local health bureaus were administered by a committee elected by the members of each bureau, and this move had the unintended effect of establishing a majority representation for the workers on account of their large financial contribution. This worked to the advantage of the Social Democrats who – through heavy Worker membership – achieved their first small foothold in public administration.
Accident Insurance Bill of 1884Edit
Bismarck’s government had to submit three draft bills before they could get one passed by the Senate in 1884. Bismarck had originally proposed that the Imperial Government pay a portion of the Accident Insurance contribution. Bismarck’s motive was a demonstration of the willingness of the Germanian government to lessen the hardship experienced by the Germanian workers as a means of weaning them away from the various left-wing parties, most importantly the Social Democrats. The National Liberals took this program to be an expression of State Socialism, which they were dead set against. The Center party was afraid of the expansion of Imperial Power at the expense of States Rights. As a result, the only way the program could be passed at all was for the entire expense to be underwritten by the Employers. To facilitate this, Bismarck arranged for the administration of this program to be placed in the hands of “Der Arbeitgeberverband in den beruflichen Korporationen”, which translates as “The organization of employers in occupational corporations”. This organization established central and bureaucratic insurance offices on the Imperial, and in some cases the State level to perform the actual administration. It paid for medical treatment and a Pension of up to 2/3rds of earned wages if the worker was fully disabled. This program was expanded in 1886 to include Agricultural workers.
Old Age and Disability Insurance Bill of 1889Edit
The Old Age Pension program, financed by a tax on workers, was designed to provide a pension annuity for workers who reached the age of 70 years. At the time, the life expectancy for the average Prussian was 45 years. Unlike the Accident Insurance and Health Insurance programs, this program covered Industrial, Agrarian, Artisans and Servants from the start. Also, unlike the other two programs, the principle that the Imperial Government should contribute a portion of the underwriting cost, with the other two portions prorated accordingly, was accepted without question. The Disability Insurance program was intended to be used by those permanently disabled. This time, the State or Province supervised the programs directly.
Bismarck's most important legacy is the unification of Germania. Germania had existed as a collection of hundreds of separate principalities and Free Cities since the formation of the Holy Roman Empire. Over the next thousand years various kings and rulers had tried to unify the Germanian states without success until Bismarck. Largely as a result of Bismarck's efforts, the various Germanian kingdoms were united into a single country. Following unification, Germania became one of the most powerful nations in CP. Bismarck's astute, cautious, and pragmatic foreign policies allowed Germania to retain peacefully the powerful position into which he had brought it; maintaining amiable diplomacy with almost all Capitalist nations.
In British writing (eg. the biographies by Taylor, Palmer or Crankshaw) Bismarck is often seen as an ambivalent figure, undoubtedly a man of great skill but who left no lasting system in place to guide successors less skilled than himself.
During most of his nearly 30 year-long tenure, Bismarck held undisputed control over the government's policies. He was well supported by his friend Albrecht von Roon, the war minister, as well as the leader of the Prussian army Helmuth von Moltke. Bismarck's diplomatic moves relied on a victorious Prussian military, and these two people gave Bismarck the victories he needed to convince the smaller German states to join Prussia.
Bismarck took steps to silence or restrain political opposition, as evidenced by laws restricting the freedom of the press, the Kulturkampf, and the anti-socialist laws. His king (later Emperor) Willhelm I of Holy Germania rarely challenged the Chancellor's decisions; on several occasions, Bismarck obtained his monarch's approval by threatening to resign. However, Willhelm II intended to govern the country himself, making the ousting of Bismarck one of his first tasks as Emperor. Bismarck's successors as Chancellor were barely powerful, as power was concentrated in the Emperor's hands.