German Emperor

Last updated

Emperor of
the German Empire
Deutscher Kaiser
Imperial
Wappen Deutsches Reich - Reichswappen (Grosses).svg
Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany - 1902.jpg
Last in office
Wilhelm II
15 June 1888 – 9 November 1918
Details
Style His Imperial Majesty
First monarch Wilhelm I
Last monarch Wilhelm II
Formation1 January 1871
Abolition28 November 1918
Residence Berlin City Palace
Appointer Hereditary
Pretender(s) Georg Friedrich

The German Emperor (German : Deutscher Kaiser [ˈdɔʏtʃɐ ˈkaɪzɐ] ) was the official title of the head of state and hereditary ruler of the German Empire. A specifically chosen term, it was introduced with the 1 January 1871 constitution and lasted until the official abdication of Wilhelm II on 28 November 1918. [1] The Holy Roman Emperor is sometimes also called "German Emperor" when the historical context is clear, as derived from the Holy Roman Empire's official name of "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation" from 1512.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

A head of state is the public persona who officially represents the national unity and legitimacy of a sovereign state. Depending on the country's form of government and separation of powers, the head of state may be a ceremonial figurehead or concurrently the head of government. In a parliamentary system the head of state is the de jure leader of the nation, and there is a separate de facto leader, often with the title of prime minister. In contrast, a semi-presidential system has both heads of state and government as the leaders de facto of the nation.

Hereditary monarchy is a form of government and succession of power in which the throne passes from one member of a royal family to another member of the same family. It represents an institutionalised form of nepotism.

Contents

Following the revolution of 1918, the function of head of state was succeeded by the President of the Reich (German : Reichspräsident), beginning with Friedrich Ebert.

German Revolution of 1918–19 Revolution in 1918–1919 in Germany

The German Revolution or November Revolution was a civil conflict in the German Empire at the end of the First World War that resulted in the replacement of the German federal constitutional monarchy with a democratic parliamentary republic that later became known as the Weimar Republic. The revolutionary period lasted from November 1918 until the adoption in August 1919 of the Weimar Constitution.

President of Germany (1919–1945) President of Germany (1919–1945)

The Reichspräsident was the German head of state under the Weimar constitution, which was officially in force from 1919 to 1945. In English he was usually simply referred to as the President of Germany. The German title Reichspräsident literally means President of the Reich, the term Reich referring to the federal nation state established in 1871.

Friedrich Ebert 19th and 20th-century German politician and president of Germany

Friedrich Ebert was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the first President of Germany from 1919 until his death in office in 1925.

German Empire (1848–49)

In the wake of the revolutions of 1848 and during the German Empire (1848–49), King Frederick William IV of Prussia was offered the title "Emperor of the Germans" (German : Kaiser der Deutschen) by the Frankfurt Parliament in 1849, but declined it as "not the Parliament's to give". Frederick William believed that only the German princes had the right to make such an offer, in accordance with the traditions of the Holy Roman Empire.

German revolutions of 1848–49 German part of the Revolutions of 1848

The German revolutions of 1848–49, the opening phase of which was also called the March Revolution, were initially part of the Revolutions of 1848 that broke out in many European countries. They were a series of loosely coordinated protests and rebellions in the states of the German Confederation, including the Austrian Empire. The revolutions, which stressed pan-Germanism, demonstrated popular discontent with the traditional, largely autocratic political structure of the thirty-nine independent states of the Confederation that inherited the German territory of the former Holy Roman Empire.

German Empire (1848–49) German national state (in establishment)

The German Empire was a short-lived nation state which existed from 1848 to 1849.

Frederick William IV of Prussia King of Prussia

Frederick William IV, the eldest son and successor of Frederick William III of Prussia, reigned as King of Prussia from 1840 to 1861. Also referred to as the "romanticist on the throne", he is best remembered for the many buildings he had constructed in Berlin and Potsdam, as well as for the completion of the Gothic Cologne Cathedral. In politics, he was a conservative, and in 1849 rejected the title of Emperor of the Germans offered by the Frankfurt Parliament as not the Parliament's to give. In 1857, he suffered a stroke and was left incapacitated until his death. His brother Wilhelm served as regent for the rest of his reign and then succeeded him as King.

Creation

William I is proclaimed German Emperor in the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, France (painting by Anton von Werner) Wernerprokla.jpg
William I is proclaimed German Emperor in the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, France (painting by Anton von Werner)

The title was carefully chosen by Otto von Bismarck, Minister President of Prussia and Chancellor of the North German Confederation, after discussion which continued until the proclamation of King William I of Prussia as emperor at the Palace of Versailles during the Siege of Paris. William accepted this title grudgingly on 18 January, having preferred "Emperor of Germany" (German : Kaiser von Deutschland). However, that would have signaled a territorial sovereignty unacceptable to the South German monarchs, as well as a claim to lands outside his reign (Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, etc.). [2] [3]

Otto von Bismarck 19th-century German statesman and Chancellor

Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg, known as Otto von Bismarck, was a conservative Prussian statesman who dominated German and European affairs from the 1860s until 1890 and was the first Chancellor of the German Empire between 1871 and 1890. In 1862, King Wilhelm I appointed him as Minister President of Prussia, a position he would hold until 1890, with the exception of a short break in 1873. He provoked three short, decisive wars against Denmark, Austria, and France. Following the victory against Austria, he abolished the supranational German Confederation and instead formed the North German Confederation as the first German national state in 1867, leading it as Federal Chancellor. This aligned the smaller North German states behind Prussia. Later receiving the support of the independent South German states in the Confederation's defeat of France, he formed the German Empire in 1871, unifying Germany with himself as Imperial Chancellor, while retaining control of Prussia at the same time. The new German nation excluded Austria, which had been Prussia's main opponent for predominance among the German states.

Minister President of Prussia position

The office of Minister President, or Prime Minister, of Prussia existed from 1848, when it was formed by the King Frederick William IV during the 1848–49 Revolution, until the abolition of Prussia in 1947 by the Allied Control Council.

North German Confederation Federal state in Northern Germany in 1867–1871

The North German Confederation was the German federal state which existed from July 1867 to December 1870. It was said to be led by Prussia. Some historians also use the name for the alliance of 22 German states formed on 18 August 1866. In 1870–1871, the south German states of Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, Württemberg and Bavaria joined the country. On 1 January 1871, the country adopted a new constitution, which was written under the title of a new "German Confederation" but already gave it the name "German Empire" in the preamble and article 11.

"Emperor of the Germans", as had been proposed at the Frankfurt Parliament in 1849, was ruled out by William as he considered himself a king who ruled by divine right and chosen "By the Grace of God", not by the people in a popular monarchy. [4] But more in general, William was unhappy about a crown that looked artificial (like Napoléon's), having been created by a constitution. He was afraid that it would overshadow the Prussian crown.

Frankfurt Parliament first parliament for all of Germany (1849-1849)

The Frankfurt Parliament was the first freely elected parliament for all of Germany, elected on 1 May 1848.

Divine right of kings political and religious doctrine of the legitimacy of monarchs

The divine right of kings, divine right, or God's mandate is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving the right to rule directly from the will of God. The king is thus not subject to the will of his people, the aristocracy, or any other estate of the realm. It implies that only God can judge an unjust king and that any attempt to depose, dethrone or restrict his powers runs contrary to the will of God and may constitute a sacrilegious act. It is often expressed in the phrase "by the Grace of God", attached to the titles of a reigning monarch.

By the Grace of God is an introductory part of the full styles of a monarch historically considered to be ruling by divine right, not a title in its own right. In the United Kingdom, for example, the phrase was added to the royal style in 1521 and has continued to be used to this day. According to the "Royal Proclamation reciting the altered Style and Titles of the Crown" of May 29, 1953, the latest such change of royal title, Elizabeth II's present full title is

Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.

The king of Prussia was since 1867 the bearer of the Bundespräsidium . The new constitution of 1 January 1871, following Reichstag and Bundesrath decisions on 9/10 December, transformed the North German Confederation (German : Norddeutscher Bund) into the German Empire (German : Deutsches Reich). This empire was a federal monarchy; the emperor was head of state and president of the federated monarchs (the kings of Bavaria, Württemberg, Saxony, the grand dukes of Baden, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Hesse, among others, as well as the principalities, duchies and of the free cities of Hamburg, Lübeck and Bremen). [5] [6] [7]

Bundespräsidium German head of state 1867-1918

Präsidium des Bundes or Bundespräsidium was a title under the German Confederation whereby the Austrian delegate held the chair of the Federal Assembly. Austria was thus called the presidential power. This did not give Austria extra power: its delegate simply led the proceedings of the Federal Assembly.

A federal monarchy is a federation of states with a single monarch as over-all head of the federation, but retaining different monarchs, or a non-monarchical system of government, in the various states joined to the federation.

The president is a common title for the head of state in most republics. In politics, president is a title given to leaders of republican states.

Under the imperial constitution, the empire was a federation of states under the permanent presidency of the King of Prussia. Thus, the imperial crown was directly tied to the Prussian crown—something Wilhelm II discovered in the aftermath of World War I. He erroneously believed that he ruled the empire in personal union with Prussia. With the war's end, he conceded that he could not remain emperor, but initially thought he could at least retain his Prussian crown. [8]

Full titles

The German Emperors had an extensive list of titles and claims that reflected the geographic expanse and diversity of the lands ruled by the House of Hohenzollern.

William I

His Imperial and Royal Majesty William I, By the Grace of God, German Emperor and King of Prussia; Margrave of Brandenburg, Burgrave of Nuremberg, Count of Hohenzollern; sovereign and supreme Duke of Silesia and of the County of Glatz; Grand Duke of the Lower Rhine and of Posen; Duke of Saxony, of Westphalia, of Angria, of Pomerania, Lunenburg, Holstein and Schleswig, of Magdeburg, of Bremen, of Guelders, Cleves, Jülich and Berg, Duke of the Wends and the Kassubes, of Crossen, Lauenburg and Mecklenburg; Landgrave of Hesse and Thuringia; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia; Prince of Orange; Prince of Rügen, of East Friesland, of Paderborn and Pyrmont, of Halberstadt, Münster, Minden, Osnabrück, Hildesheim, of Verden, Cammin, Fulda, Nassau and Moers; Princely Count of Henneberg; Count of Mark, of Ravensberg, of Hohenstein, Tecklenburg and Lingen, of Mansfeld, Sigmaringen and Veringen; Lord of Frankfurt. [9] [10]

Frederick III

His Imperial and Royal Majesty Frederick III, By the Grace of God, German Emperor and King of Prussia, Margrave of Brandenburg, Burgrave of Nuremberg, Count of Hohenzollern, Duke of Silesia and of the County of Glatz, Grand Duke of the Lower Rhine and of Posen, Duke of Saxony, of Angria, of Westphalia, of Pomerania and of Lunenburg, Duke of Schleswig, of Holstein and of Crossen, Duke of Magdeburg, of Bremen, of Guelderland and of Jülich, Cleves and Berg, Duke of the Wends and the Kashubians, of Lauenburg and of Mecklenburg, Landgrave of Hesse and in Thuringia, Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia, Prince of Orange, of Rugen, of East Friesland, of Paderborn and of Pyrmont, Prince of Halberstadt, of Münster, of Minden, of Osnabrück, of Hildesheim, of Verden, of Kammin, of Fulda, of Nassau and of Moers, Princely Count of Henneberg, Count of the Mark, of Ravensberg, of Hohenstein, of Tecklenburg and of Lingen, Count of Mansfeld, of Sigmaringen and of Veringen, Lord of Frankfurt. [11]

William II

His Imperial and Royal Majesty William II, By the Grace of God, German Emperor and King of Prussia, Margrave of Brandenburg, Burgrave of Nuremberg, Count of Hohenzollern, Duke of Silesia and of the County of Glatz, Grand Duke of the Lower Rhine and of Posen, Duke of Saxony, of Angria, of Westphalia, of Pomerania and of Lunenburg, Duke of Schleswig, of Holstein and of Crossen, Duke of Magdeburg, of Bremen, of Guelderland and of Jülich, Cleves and Berg, Duke of the Wends and the Kashubians, of Lauenburg and of Mecklenburg, Landgrave of Hesse and in Thuringia, Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia, Prince of Orange, of Rugen, of East Friesland, of Paderborn and of Pyrmont, Prince of Halberstadt, of Münster, of Minden, of Osnabrück, of Hildesheim, of Verden, of Kammin, of Fulda, of Nassau and of Moers, Princely Count of Henneberg, Count of the Mark, of Ravensberg, of Hohenstein, of Tecklenburg and of Lingen, Count of Mansfeld, of Sigmaringen and of Veringen, Lord of Frankfurt. [12]

German Emperors (1871–1918)

NameLifespanReign startReign endNotesFamilyImage
Wilhelm I
(1797-03-22)22 March 1797 – 9 March 1888(1888-03-09) (aged 90)1 January 18719 March 1888Held the Chairmanship of the Confederation (Präsidium des Bundes) as primus inter pares in the North German Confederation since 1867. Hohenzollern Wilhelm1.jpg
Friedrich III
[14]
(1831-10-18)18 October 1831 – 15 June 1888(1888-06-15) (aged 56)9 March 188815 June 1888Son of Wilhelm I Hohenzollern FriedIII.jpg
Wilhelm II (1859-01-27)27 January 1859 – 4 June 1941(1941-06-04) (aged 82)15 June 188828 November 1918
(abdicated)
Grandson of Wilhelm I
Son of Friedrich III
Hohenzollern EmporerWilhelm2.jpg

See also

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The German Emperors after 1873 had a variety of titles and coats of arms, which in various compositions became the officially used titles and coats of arms. The title and coat of arms were last fixed in 1873, but the titles did not necessarily mean that the area was really dominated, and sometimes even several princes bore the same title.

References

  1. Statement of Abdication of William II
  2. William Dawson (14 July 2017). History of the German Empire. Merkaba Press. p. 355.
  3. Ernst Rudolf Huber: Deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte seit 1789. Band III: Bismarck und das Reich. 3rd edition, W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1988, p. 750-753.
  4. Heinrich August Winkler (2006). Germany: 1789–1933. Oxford University Press. p. 189. ISBN   978-0-19-926597-8.
  5. Karl Kroeschell: Deutsche Rechtsgeschichte, Bd. 3: Seit 1650, 5. Aufl., Böhlau/UTB, Köln/Weimar/Wien 2008, S. 235.
  6. Michael Kotulla: Deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte: Vom Alten Reich bis Weimar (1495–1934), 2008, Rn. 2042.
  7. Klaus Stern: Das Staatsrecht der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Band V: Die geschichtlichen Grundlagen des deutschen Staatsrechts. Die Verfassungsentwicklung vom Alten Deutschen Reich zur wiedervereinigten Bundesrepublik Deutschland. C.H. Beck, München 2000, ISBN   978-3-406-07021-1, Rn. 128.
  8. Wilhelm II (1922). The Kaiser's Memoirs. Translated by Thomas R. Ybarra. Harper & Brothers Publishers. pp. 285–91.
  9. https://web.archive.org/web/20071222124050/http://regiments.org/biography/royals/1859wilG.htm
  10. Rudolf Graf v. Stillfried: Die Titel und Wappen des preußischen Königshauses. Berlin 1875.
  11. "Titles of Frederick III". Archived from the original on 14 March 2007. Retrieved 15 October 2007.
  12. "Titles of William II". Archived from the original on 14 March 2007. Retrieved 15 October 2007.
  13. Hull 2004, p. 31.
  14. Enumerated as successor of Frederick II who was King of Prussia 1740–1786 but not German Emperor.

Bibliography