1902 Encyclopedia > Prussia


PRUSSIA (Ger., Preussen; Lat., Borussia), a kingdom of northern Europe and by far the most important member of the German empire, occupies almost the whole of northern Germany, between 5° 52' and 22° 53' E. long. and 49° 7' and 55° 53' N. lat. It now forms a tolerably compact mass of territory, with its longest axis from south-west to north-east; but within the limits just indicated lie the "enclaves" Oldenburg, Mecklenburg, Brunswick, and other small German states, while beyond them it possesses Hohenzollern, in the south of Würtemberg, and other "exclaves" of minor importance. On the N. Prussia is bounded by the North Sea, Denmark, and the Baltic ; on the E. by Russia and Poland; on the S. by Austrian Silesia, Moravia, Bohemia, Saxony, the Thuringian states, Bavaria, Hesse-Darmstadt, the Rhenish Palatinate, and Lorrame; and on the W. by Luxemburg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. With the exception of the sea on the north and the mountain-barrier on the south-east the frontiers are political rather than geographical a fact that has always been characteristic of Prussia’s limits and that has had considerable influence in determining its history. The Prussian monarchy, with an area of 134,490 square of miles comprises nearly two-thirds of the entire extent of the German empire. Its kernel is the Mark of Brandenburg, round which the rest of the state has been built up gradually, not without costly and exhausting wars. The territory ruled over by the first Hohenzolern elector (1415-40) did not exceed 11,400 square miles, an area that had been quadrupled before the death of the first king in 1713. Frederick the Great left behind him a realm of 75 000 square miles, and the following two monarchs by their Polish and Westphalian acquisitions, brought it to a size not far short of Its present extent (122,000 square miles in 1803). After the disastrous war of 1806 Prussia shank to something smaller than the kingdom of Frederick the Great (61,000 square miles), and the readjustment of Europe in 1815 still left it short by 14 000 square of miles of its extent in 1803. Fully one-fifth of its present area is due to the war of 1866, which added Hanover, Hesse-Cassel, Hesse-Nassau, Schleswig-Holstein, and the city of Frankfort-on-the-Main to the Prussian dominions.


The claims which Prussian history makes upon our b attention are based neither upon venerable antiquity nor upon uniformity of origin. The territorial and political development of the country has taken place wholly within the last thousand years; and the materials out of which has been built up-marquisates and duchies, ecclesiastical principalities and free imperial cities—are of the most heterogeneous description. The history of Prussia acquires its primary significance from the fact that this state was the instrument by which the political regeneration of Germany was ultimately effected from within and the unity and coherence of the narrative are best observed when we consider it as a record of the training that fitted the country for this task. This rôle was forced upon Prussia rather by the exigencies of its geographical position than by its title to be racially the most representative German state. The people who have established the power of Germany cannot rank in purity of Teutonic blood with the inhabitants of the central, western, and southern parts of the empire. The conquest of the Slavonic regions that form so great a part of modern Prussia did not occur without a considerable intermingling of race, and Prussia may perhaps be added to the list of great nations that seem to owe their pre-eminence to the happy blending of their composite parts. It is perhaps also worthy of remark that this state, like its great rival, was developed from a marchland of the German empire,—Prussia arising from the North Mark erected against the Wends, and Austria from the East Mark erected against the Hungarians.

In tracing the early development of Prussia three main currents have to be noticed, even in a short sketch like the present, which do not completely unite until the beginning of the 17th century; indeed many writers begin the history of modern Prussia with the accession of the Great Elector in 1640. We have (1) the history of the Mark of Brandenburg the true political kernel of the modern state; (2) the history of the district of Preussen or Prussia which gave name and regal title to the monarchy; and (3) the history of the family of Hohenzollern, from which sprang the line of vigorous rulers who practically determined the fortunes of the country.

Mark of Branderburg.—Whether Teutons or Slavs were the earlier inhabitants of the district extending from the Elbe on the west to the Oder and the Vistula on the east is a question mainly of antiquarian interest and one upon which authorities are not wholly agreed. In the opening centuries of the Christian era we find it occupied by Slavonic tribes, whose boundaries reach even to the west of the Elbe, and the conquest and absorption of these by the growing German power form the subject of the early history of Brandenburg. Hand in hand with the territorial extension of the Germans went the spread of Christianity, which, indeed, often preceded the arms of the conquering race. The Slavs to the east of the Elbe were left unmolested down to the foundation of the German monarchy, established by the successors of Charlemagne about the middle of the 9th century. Then ensued the period of formation of the German "marks" or marches, which served at once as bulwarks against the encroachments of external enemies and as nuclei of further conquest. The North Mark of Saxony, corresponding roughly to the northern part of the present province of Saxony, to the west of the Elbe was established by the emperor Henry I. about the year 930, and formed the beginning of the Prussian state. The same energetic monarch extended his career of conquest considerably to the east of the Elbe, obtaining more or less firm possession of Priegnitz, Ruppin, and the district round the sources of the Havel, and even earned his arms to the banks of the Oder. His son Otho I. (936-973) followed in his father’s footsteps and founded the bishoprics of Havelberg and Brandenburg, the latter taking its name from the important Wendish fortress of Brannibor. Towards the end of the 10th century, however, the Wendish flood again swept over the whole territory to the east of the Elbe, and the Germans were confined to the original limits of the North Mark. Christianity was rooted out and the bishop of Brandenburg reduced to an episcopus in partibus. The history of the next century and a half is simply a record of a series of desultory struggles between the margraves of the North Mark and the encompassing Wends, in which the Germans did no more than hold their own on the left bank of the Elbe.

Things begin to grow a little clearer in 1134 when the emperor Lothair rewarded the services of Albert the Bear, a member of the house of Anhalt and one of the most powerful princes of the empire, by investing him with the North Mark. Albert seems to have been a man of great vigour and considerable administrative talent, and by a mixture of hard fighting and skilful policy he extended his power over the long-lost territories of Priegnitz Ruppin, the Havelland. and the Zauche. He also shifted the centre of power to the marshy district last-mentioned at and changed his title to margrave of Brandenburg. The North Mark henceforth began to be known as the Altmark, or Old Mark, while the territory round Brandenburg was for a short time called the New Mark, but more permanently the Mittelmark, or Middle Mark. The soil of Albert’s new possessions was for the most part poor and unpromising, but he peopled it with industrious colonists from Holland and elsewhere, and began that system of he painstaking husbandry and drainage which has gradually converted the sandy plains and marshes of Brandenburg into agricultural land of comparative fertility. The clergy were among his most able assistants in reclaiming waste land and spreading cultivation, and through them Christianity was firmly established among the conquered and Germanized Slavs. Albert’s descendants general known as the Ascanian line from the Latinized form of the name of their ancestral castle of Aschersleben, ruled in Brandenburg for nearly two hundred years; but none of them seem to have been on a par with him in energy or ability. On the whole, however, they were able to continue in the course marked out by him, and, in spite of the pernicious practice of dividing the territory among the various scions of the reigning house, the Mark grew steadily in size and importance. Before the end of the 12th century the margrave was created arch-chamberlain of the German empire, an office that eventually brought in its train the privilege of belonging to the electoral college. Berlin became a fortified post of the margraves in 1240 and soon began to take the place of Brandenburg as the political centre of the margraviate. Under Waldemar, who succeeded in 1309, the scattered possessions of the house were again gathered into one hand. His sway extended over the Altmark; Priegnitz, or the Vormark; the Middle Mark, now extending to the Oder; the lands of Krossen and Sternberg beyond the Oder; the Ukermark, to the north ; Upper and Lower Lusatia ; and part of Pomerania, with a feudal superiority over the rest. No other German prince of the time had a more extensive territory or one less exposed to imperial interference.

With Waldemar’s death in 1319 the Ascanian line became extinct and a period of anarchy began, which lasted for a century and brought the once flourishing country to the verge of annihilation. Its neighbours took advantage of its masterless condition to help themselves to the outlying portions of its territory, and its resources were further waited by intestine conflicts. In 1320 the emperor Louis the Bavarian took possession of the Mark as a lapsed fief, and conferred it upon his son Louis, at that time a mere child. But this connexion with the imperial house proved more of a curse than of a blessing: the younger Louis turned out a very incompetent ruler, and Brandenburg became involved in the evils brought upon the Bavarian house by its conflict with the pope. To crown all, a pretender to the name of Waldemar appeared, whose claims to Brandenburg were supported by the new emperor, Charles IV.; and in 1351 Louis, wearied of his profitless sovereignty, resigned the margraviate to his brothers, Louis the Roman and Otho. The first of these died in 1365, and Otho soon became embroiled with Charles IV. But he was no match for the astute emperor, who invaded the Mark, and finally compelled the margrave to resign his territory for a sum of ready money and the promise of an annuity. The ambition of Charles was directed towards the establishment of a great east German monarchy, embracing Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Lusatia, and Brandenburg, and he had the sagacity to recognize the commercial importance of the last-named as offering an outlet by the Baltic Sea. Charles, however, died in 1378, and with him perished his far-reaching plans. He was succeeded in the electorate of Brandenburg—for as such it had been formally recognized in the Golden Bull of 1356—by his second son Sigismund. This prince was too greatly hampered by his other schemes to bestow much attention on Brandenburg, and in 1388 his pecuniary embarrassments were so great that he gave the electorate in pawn to his cousin Jobst or Jodocus of Moravia. The unfortunate country seemed now to have reached the lowest point consistent with its further independent existence. Jobst looked upon it merely as a source of income and made little or no attempt at government. Internal order completely disappeared, and the nobles made war on each other or plundered the more peaceful citizens without let or hindrance. Powerful neighbours again took the opportunity of appropriating such parts of Brandenburg as lay most convenient to their own borders, and the final dissolution of the electorate seemed imminent. Jobst died in 1411; and Sigismund, who succeeded to the imperial throne mainly through the help of Frederick VI., burgrave of Nuremberg, conferred the electorate of Brandenburg on this stout supporter, partly in gratitude for services and partly as a mortgage for money advanced. Sigismund also may possibly have recognized in Frederick the fitting ruler to checkmate any attempt on the part of the Polish-Lithuanian power, which had just overthrown the Teutonic Order (see p. 6), to push forward the Slavonic settlements to their old frontier on the Elbe. At first Frederick was merely appointed administrator of Brandenburg; but in 1415 he was declared the actual feudal superior of the land, and two years later formally installed as elector.

The Brandenburg to which Frederick succeeded was considerably smaller than it had been in the best days of the Ascanians, consisting merely of the Altmark, Priegnitz, the Mittelmark, part of the Ukermark, and the territory of Sternberg. Including his family possessions of Ansbach and Baireuth, he ruled over a territory of about 11,400 square miles in extent. The internal condition of Brandenburg had declined as much as its territorial extension had decreased. The central power had become weakened and the whole inner organization relaxed, while the electorate had also lost most of the advantages that once favourably distinguished it from other imperial fiefs. Under the first margraves the official side of their position had been prominent, and it was not forgotten that technically they were little more than the representatives of the emperor. In the 13th century this feeling began to disappear, and Brandenburg enjoyed an independent importance and carried out an independent policy in a way not paralleled in any other German mark. The emperor was still, of course, the suzerain of the country, but his relations with it had so little influence on the course of its development that they may be practically ignored. Within the Mark the power of the margraves was at first almost unlimited. This arose in part from the fact that few great nobles had followed Albert the Bear in his crusade against the Wends, and that consequently there were few large feudal manors or lordships with their crowds of dependent vassals. The great bulk of the knights, the towns, and the rural communes held their lands and derived their rights directly from the margraves, who thus stood in more or less immediate contact with all classes of their subjects. The towns and villages were generally laid out by contractors (locatores), not necessarily of noble birth, who were installed as hereditary chief magistrates of the community and received numerous encouragements to reclaim waste lands. This mode of colonization was especially favourable to the peasantry, who seem in Brandenburg to have retained the disposal of their persons and property at a time when villainage or serfdom was the ordinary state of their class in feudal Europe. The dues paid by these contractors in return for their concessions formed the principal revenue of the margraves. As the expenses of the latter increased, chiefly in consequence of the calls of war, lavish donations to the clergy, and the attempt to maintain court establishments for all the members of the reigning house, they were frequently driven to pawn these dues for sums of ready money. This gave the knights or barons an opportunity to buy out the village magistrates and replace them with creatures of their own; and the axe was laid at the root of the freedom of the peasants when Louis the Bavarian formally recognized the patrimonial or manorial jurisdiction of the noblesse. Henceforth the power of the nobles steadily increased at the expense of the peasants, who were gradually reduced to a state of feudal servitude. Instead of communicating directly with the margrave through his burgraves and vogts (bailiffs), the village communities came to be represented solely by the knights who had obtained feudal possession of their lands. Many of the towns followed in their wake. Others were enabled to maintain their independence, and also made use of the pecuniary needs of the margraves, until many of them pecuniary needs of the margraves, until many of them practically became municipal republics. Their strength, however, was perhaps more usefully shown in their ability to resist the barons, which saved industry and commerce from extinction at a time of unbridled lawlessness, when the central power could do nothing for their aid. In the pecuniary embarrassments of the margraves also originated the power of the Stande, or estates, consisting of the noblesse, the clergy, and the towns. The first recorded instance of a diet co-operating with the ruler occurs in a 1170, and in 1280 we find the margraves solemnly binding h themselves not to raise a "bede" or special voluntary contribution (like the English "benevolence") without the consent of their estates. By 1355 the estates had secured the appointment of a permanent councillor, without whose concurrence the decrees of the margraves were invalid. In the century that followed the extinction of the Ascanians liberty degenerated into licence and the land was given o over to an almost total anarchy Only the most powerful towns were able to maintain their independence, and many a of them and of the clergy paid regular black-mail to the nearest nobles. Thus rotten within, it is no wonder that 1 the electorate completely lost its independent political importance.

The Hohenzollerns.—The new ruler who had to face this state of affairs was a member of an old Swabian family, which took its name of Hohenzollern from the ancestral castle in the Swabian Alb. Recent investigation has traced back the line to Hunfrid, duke of Rhaetia and Istria at the beginning of the 9th century, a member of the widely-spread family of the Burkardingians, while it finds the actual progenitors of the Swabian branch of the family in two Alemannian dukes of the 10th century. At a later period the Hohenzollerns were conspicuous for their loyal services to the Hohenstauffen emperors, under whom they acquired extensive possessions in Franconia and Moravia, and also the office of burgrave of Nuremberg (1191). They were ultimately recognized as among the most powerful princes of the empire, and, though they never attained to the electoral dignity, they frequently exercised considerable influence in the transference of the imperial crown. Rudolt of Hapsburg owed his succession in 1273 to the exertions of one Hohenzollern burgrave, and Louis the Bavarian owed the victory of Mühldorf (1322) to another. The two sons of the first burgrave, Conrad and Frederick, divided their inheritance between them, the former retaining the Franconian estates and the dignity of burgrave, the latter the ancestral possessions in Swabia. From the first of these descended the rulers of Prussia, while the other line also still exists in the person of the mediatized prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.

Frederick (1415-1440), who as elector of Brandenburg assumed the style of Frederick I., showed himself equal to the troublesome task before him, and would have been still more successful had his interests been limited to the electorate. By a prudent mixture of lenity and firmness, which did not shrink from actual fighting, he controlled the law-lessness of the Quitzows and other robber barons, restored a fair degree of internal order, and made his subjects feel that the central power was a fact that could not be ignored. While thus regulating the affairs of Brandenburg, Frederick was also a conspicuous figure in imperial politics, especially in the Hussite wars. His candidature for the imperial throne in 1438 may be regarded as the first occasion on which the houses of Hohenzollern and Hapsburg came into competition. Frederick was succeeded in Brandenburg by his son Frederick II. (1440-1470), and in his Franconian possessions by his son Albert. The former followed in his father’s footsteps by taking energetic measures to consolidate his power and restore the electorate to its former extent. His chief struggle was with the large towns, which had cordially welcomed the Hohenzollerns as champions against the freebooting barons, but were unwilling to allow any intervention in their own affairs. Frederick subdued the resistance of Berlin, among other towns, and by a somewhat unwarrantable stretch of his prerogative erected a royal castle within its walls. He also regained possession of the Neumark, which had been given in pledge to the Teutonic Order in 1402, and would have added Lusatia and Pomerania to his domains if the emperor had not placed obstacles in his way. A long-standing feud with the archbishop of Magdeburg was also finally settled in this reign. Under his brother and successor Albert (1470-1486), surnamed "Achilles" from his chivalrous valour and military talent, the Franconian lands were again united with Brandenburg. Albert allowed his devotion to the emperor to interfere to some extent with his own interests, but he carried on successful wars with Mecklenburg and Pomerania, and effectually resisted the attempts of the Teutonic knights to repossess themselves of the Neumark. His name is best remembered by the Dispositio Achillea, a family ordinance providing for the future separation of Brandenburg and Ansbach-Baireuth, and establishing the custom of primogeniture in each. According to Hallam, this was the first instance of the legal establishment of primogeniture, and, when we consider the effect it had in keeping the Brandenburg possessions together, while those of Saxony (for instance) were frittered away among younger sons and their descendants, we shall not fail to discern its importance in determining Prussia’s future. With the accession of John (1486 -1499), surnamed "Cicero" on account of his eloquence or of his knowledge of Latin, begins a short period in which the rulers of Brandenburg take little share in imperial politics. At home John found his hands full in repressing the disorders that had arisen through Albert’s long absence from the electorate, and he acted with such vigour and address that he succeeded in obtaining from the towns an important excise on beer, frequently refused to his father. The old claim to feudal supremacy over Pomerania, dating from the days of the Ascanians, was compromised in 1493 for an assurance of eventual succession on the extinction of the Pomeranian dukes. The next elector, Joachim I. (1499-1535), acquired the surname of "Nestor" from his encouragement of learning, which he showed inter alia by the foundation of a university at Frankfort-on-the-Oder. He also effected an important internal reform by the introduction of Roman law, looking upon this as an easier way of securing uniformity of procedure than by a codification of the heterogeneous common law of his dominions. The inconvenience arising from the fact that the supreme court followed the sovereign from place to place was now removed in Brandenburg, as a short time before in England, by the establishment of a fixed and central court of final jurisdiction (Kammergericht). This court had its seat at Berlin, which had recently become the capital and residence of the electors. In curbing the lawlessness of the nobles, who were yet far from being perfectly disciplined, Joachim showed as strong a hand as his predecessors. He adhered strenuously to his Roman Catholic belief in spite of the fact that Protestantism had been embraced by his y own family and by most of his subjects, and he regarded with abhorrence the attitude of the Protestant princes towards the emperor. In violation of the family law, Joachim I. bequeathed the Neumark to his younger son y John, and thus Joachim II (1535-1571) succeeded to only a part of the paternal possessions. John seems to have been the more vigorous and decided of the two brothers, and led the way in announcing his transition to the Protestant faith, followed by Joachim in 1539. John also joined the Schmalkald League, but was induced to retire from it by his brother, who succeeded in conjoining an adoption of the Reformation in his own dominions with a careful avoidance of conflict with the emperor and Roman Catholic party. The church ordinance which he framed for Brandenburg was drawn up in such a way that the head of the state became likewise the head of the state church, and henceforth he regarded himself, like Henry VIII. of England, as standing towards his own country in the place of the pope. The public introduction of the new faith was accomplished without difficulty, and the clergy witnessed the secularization of their property with much equanimity. The funds thus acquired by Joachim, a prince of magnificent ideas and of lavish expenditure, were of great service to him ; but part of them he devoted to the encouragement of science and art. A compact of mutual right of eventual inheritance made in 1537 with the duke of Liegnitz and Brieg was of great ultimate importance as affording Frederick II. a pretext for his claims to Silesia. A still more useful arrangement of a similar kind was carried out by Joachim in 1569, when he secured t\e right of succession to the duchy of Prussia.

Between the accession of the Hohenzollern dynasty and the period at which we have now arrived the area of Brandenburg had been increased to nearly 15,000 square miles, and its material prosperity had grown in at least an equal ratio. It was still, however, far from being a com-pact or united state, nor had it as yet any pretension to an independent part on the European stage. Perhaps the most marked internal change was the increase in the power of the estates, resulting in great measure from the financial needs of the electors. Their gradual progress towards complete recognition as a coordinate branch of government may be said to have culminated in the formal declaration of Joachim II., that he would never undertake any action of importance affecting the welfare of his subjects without first consulting the estates. Yet alongside of this growth of the estates there were other causes at work paving the way for the future absolutism of the rulers. Thus the new ecclesiastical constitution brought the elector, as head of the church, into immediate relation with all classes of the people, and the abolition of the distinction between mediate and immediate subjects in the religious sphere prepared the way for a similar position in secular matters. So too the introduction of Roman law accustomed the mind to dwell on the central authority and administration, and its very terminology promoted the conception of the elector as a "royal" ruler. A more important cause, however, than either of these was the gradual decline of the power of the towns, with the accompanying revival of that of the nobles. The practical independence and comparative wealth of the towns had been followed by intestine feuds, in which the patricians were arrayed against the guilds, and these not only weakened the towns directly, but also gave the electors frequent pretexts to interfere and curtail their privileges. At the end of the reign of Joachim II. the elector and the diet, the noblesse and the municipalities, were still in a state of comparative and promising equilibrium. But it was evident that the power of the diet was now almost wholly confined to its command of the purse, and that an elector who could make himself independent of its subsidies would be in a position to defy its claims while it was equally evident that the growing weakness of the towns was incapacitating them for any effectual resistance to an ambitious prince, who might utilize the congenial support of the noblesse as a stepping-stone to arbitrary power. The short-sighted and selfish neglect of general questions now making way among the separate sections of the diet, and their increasing tendency to appear at those sittings only in which their own peculiar interests were under discussion, also helped to free the hands of the electors. The condition of the peasantry had been steadily deteriorating, and their personal rights were already seriously encroached upon.

Under Joachim’s son, John George (1571-1598), who permanently reunited the Neumark with Brandenburg, the tendencies just noticed received emphatic expression. All vacant official positions were filled with members of the noblesse, who also received the right of exacting compulsory service from the peasants and other similar privileges. The elector, who acquired the name of "Oekonom" or steward from his admirable financial management, soon reduced the large debt left by his father, and, leaning on the support he had earned from the barons, was able to act with great independence towards the other elements of the diet. During his undisturbed reign the material prosperity of Brandenburg advanced considerably, and the population was increased by numerous Protestant refugees from France and Holland. Joachim Frederick (1598-1608) had the good sense and resolution to oppose the testament of his father, which had assigned the Neumark to his younger brother, and in the Gera Bond executed a solemn ratification of the Dispositio Achillea. Ansbach and Baireuth were formally relinquished to the younger line, and have never since, except from 1791 to 1806, formed part of the Prussian dominions. This reign is memorable for the establishment of a state council (Staatsrath), which served in some degree as a ministerial cabinet, and may be characterized as the nucleus of the bureaucracy of modern Prussia. John Sigismund (1608-1619) does not seem to have been a man of marked personal character, but his reign is of great importance in the history of Brandenburg on account of the extensive territorial enlargement that fell to its lot. The contingency which had been contemplated in the treaty with Prussia in 1569 was realized on the death of Duke Albert in 1618; and John Sigismund, whose title was strengthened by his marriage with the late duke’s daughter, inherited the duchy. His marriage also brought him a claim to the duchies of Cleves and Jülich and other lands near the Rhine, but this title was disputed by the count palatine of Neuburg. The count embraced Roman Catholicism, and his contest with the elector soon became a mere incident in the great conflict that now broke out between the two religions. The disputed territories were occupied by Spanish and Dutch troops, and neither claimant derived much advantage from them till after the Thirty Years’ War. For a time, however, the outlying possessions of John Sigismund touched on both sides the limits of modern Prussia. In 1613 the elector, either from pure conviction or from a desire to conciliate the Reformed diet of Cleves, announced his adoption of the Reformed (Calvinistic) type of Protestantism, an action that gave great offence in his older dominions. He made, however, no attempt to induce his subjects to follow his example, and may be said to have inaugurated the policy of religious toleration that has since been characteristic of Prussian rulers. During his reign his territories were more than doubled in extent, covering at his death an area of 31,000 square miles; but the elector of Brandenburg could not yet claim to rank above those of Bavaria and Saxony.

Duchy of Prussia.—The duchy of Prussia, thus acquired by the elector, formed the eastern half of the territory bearing the name of Preussen, and stretched along the Baltic Sea from the Vistula to the Memel. It still remained a Polish fief, and was separated from the rest of the electoral dominions by West Prussia, which the Teutonic Order had been forced to resign to Poland a century and a half before. The native Prussians were of a race akin to the Letts and Lithuanians, and their name (Pruzi, Prutheni) was probably derived from a Lettish root meaning "intelligence." [5-1] Towards the end of the first century of the Christian era we find authentic accounts wit of the importation by the Romans of amber from the Baltic coast, but the first mention of the Pruzi by name enc occurs in a document of the 9th century. Their first to appearance in German history is connected with the attempt sq made in 997 by Adalbert, bishop of Prague, to convert them to Christianity. But his efforts, as well as those of successor Bruno, met with little success, and each of these pious missionaries found a martyr's grave on the shore of the Baltic The obstinate adherence of the natives to their paganism was strengthened by their natural suspicion of a political aim under cover of missionary enterprise, and they felt that they were fighting for their land as well as for en their religion. The next serious attempt at their conversion was made two hundred years later by a Cistercian monk named Christian, who at the outset had some success and m was appointed first bishop of Prussia. The Prussians, however, soon expelled Christian and his supporters, and even invaded Polish territory, plundering and exacting tribute. In this extremity Christian and Conrad, duke of Masovia, applied for aid to the knights of the TEUTONIC ORDER (q.v), who gladly embarked on this new crusade. The Prussians made a desperate resistance; but the military discipline and strength of the Teutonic knights were not in the long run to be withstood, reinforced, as they were, by crowds of crusaders and adventurers anxious to share in the pious work, and assisted on two occasions by the troops of Ottocar of Bohemia. The knights entered Prussia in 1230, and after half a century of hard fighting found themselves masters of the entire country. They had previously taken care to procure from the emperor and the pope a grant of all the lands they should conquer, as well of those offered to them by Conrad of Masovia. At first the government of the Order, though arbitrary was not unfavourable to the welfare of the land. The few native nobles who adopted Christianity were allowed to retain their privileged position, and the ranks of the noblesse were recruited by grants to German knights. Numerous towns and villages were built; the place of the greatly thinned Prussians was taken by industrious German colonists; agriculture and commerce were carried on with energy and success; and all aggression from without was vigorously repelled. The general plan of colonization was similar to that in Brandenburg, except that the place of the margrave was taken by a class of privileged nobles, who divided the power of government among them. In 1309 Pomerelia, to the west of the Vistula, was subdued, and the headquarters of the Order were removed from Venice to the fortress of Marienburg on the Vistula; and before the end of the century the "Ordensand" of Prussia is said to have contained about fifty walled towns still more numerous cables, and several hundred villages and hamlets, while it extended from Pomerama to the western frontier of Lithuania. The active trade which now flourished was carried on mainly with England and the Hanseatic towns. As time went on, however the knights allowed their vows of temperance and chastity to sink into abeyance and became enervated by luxury and excess. Their old military skill declined, and they had suck to such a state of weakness that the single battle of Tannenberg (1410), in which they were defeated by the Poles shook their power to its foundations, Their arbitrary and exclusive rule now began to reap its reward: the Prussians took advantage of the weakness of the Order to claim a larger share in the government, and as their burdens continued to grow more oppressive, finally formed an alliance with its arch-enemy Poland. Attacked from without and weakened by dissession within, the Order was at length compelled to succumb; and a war begun in 1454 ended thirteen years later with the cession of West Prussia to Poland and an acknowledgement of the latter’s feudal superiority over the remaining territories of the Order. The knights turned to Germany for help, and endeavoured to persuade powerful German princes to undertake the office of grand master. In 1511 their choice fell on Albert, a member of the Franconian branch of the Hohenzollerns, who undertook the task of reorganization with vigour and attempted to dispense with the oath of fealty to Poland. But failing to receive any adequate support from the emperor, he at length, acting on the advice of Luther, determined to embrace Protestantism and convert the Ordensland into a secular and hereditary duchy. This momentous transformation was carried out in 1525 without interference from either the empire or Poland, and Albert continued to be a vassal of the latter state as duke s of Prussia. The people of Prussia, many of whom had already gone over to the new faith, hailed the reform with great satisfaction, and most of the knights contentedly changed their life-rents for feudal holdings, married and became hereditary nobles. When it passed into the hands n of the elector of Brandenburg, Prussia thus consisted of a compact secular duchy, owing fealty to Poland and possessing the two well-defined estates of nobles and burghers, the first of which held the reins of power.

John Sigismund died in 1619, a year after his acquisition of Prussia, and left his territories to his son George William (1619-1640). This unfortunate prince may perhaps be described as the first utterly incompetent ruler of his line, though due allowance must be made for the lie extreme difficulty of his position. Succeeding to power at the outbreak of the great struggle between Catholicism and Protestantism, he neglected the opportunity of joining in with Saxony in the formation of a strong league of German Protestant princes, and by his temporizing policy converted his electorate into the common battle-ground. In the language of Carlyle, "where the Titans were bowling rocks at each other, George William hoped by dexterous skipping to escape share of the game." His own irresolution was aided by the fact that his chancellor and chief .as adviser, Schwarzenberg, was a Roman Catholic and of strong imperialist sympathies, while the great bulk of his subjects dreaded an increase of the power of Calvinism almost more than that of Roman Catholicism. Brandenburg was overrun in turn by Mansfeld, Tilly, and Wallenstein, and suffered as much as if it had taken an active part in the war. The Restitution Edict of 1628. however, gave the elector serious cause of alarm, and the appearance of Gustavus Adolphus before Berlin in 1631 confirmed his faltering decision and made him for a time throw in his lot with the Protestant cause. After the death of itch Gustavus, Brandenburg followed the example of Saxony and in negotiating a separate peace with the emperor (1635). But this apostasy brought little relief, as the emperor gave no aid in expelling the Swedes from Brandenburg and Pomerania, which they continued to occupy for several had years In 1639 the elector removed his court to Königsberg in Prussia, the only part of his realms in which he was sure of comparative tranquillity, and there he died in 1640 leaving a land devastated in great part by fire and sword and at the lowest ebb of dignity and power.

Frederick William (1640-1688), whom both his contemporaries and after ages have agreed to dignify with the title of the "Great Elector," was only twenty years from old when he succeeded to the throne, but he at once began to manifest a decided and vigorous character very different from that of his father. He emancipated himself without delay from the guidance of Schwarzenberg, and, in spite of the emperor's displeasure, concluded a peace with Sweden, which provided for the withdrawal of the Swedish troops from the electorate. During the following years of war Frederick William preserved a strict neutrality and utilized the opportunity to restore the material resources of his country and reorganize and strengthen his army. The fruits of this line of action were seen at the peace of Westphalia (1648), when Frederick William, as lord of an efficient army of 25,000 men, was able to secure a ready hearing for his claims to territorial extension. He established his right to the whole of Pomerania, but, as the Swedes refused to give up Western or Hither Pomerania (Vorpommern), he received as compensation the rich ecclesiastical principalities of Magdeburg, Halberstadt, and Minden, in central Germany. In the second Swedish and Polish war, which broke out in 1655, he used his intermediate position with great skill and unscrupulousness, allying himself first with one and then with the other of the belligerents, as seemed likely to be most profitable. Thus the troops of Brandenburg took a prominent share in the defeat of the Poles at the three days’ battle of Warsaw (1656), in return for which service Sweden undertook to recognize the elector as independent sovereign of the duchy of Prussia. Scarcely, however, did the scale of victory begin to turn than the elector deserted his former ally, and in the treaty of Wehlau (1657) received his reward in the formal relinquishment by Poland of its feudal rights over Prussia. This important step, which added the electorate to the independent states of Europe and prepared the way for the growth of a great north German power, was ratified three years later at the general peace of Oliva. In 1666 the long-vexed question of the inheritance to the Rhenish duchies was settled by an amicable partition, according to which Cleves, Mark, and Ravensberg fell to the share of Prussia. When Louis XIV. attacked Holland in 1672 Frederick William was at first the only German prince to suspect danger in the ambitious designs of the French monarch. In spite of tempting offers from France, he concluded an alliance with Holland, and at the head of Austrian and Brandenburgian troops joined the Dutch in an ineffectual campaign on the Rhine. In 1673 he was forced, through lack of sufficient support from the emperor, to make peace with France; but he joined the triple alliance of Holland, Spain, and the empire in the following year and took part in an indecisive campaign in Alsace. There he received intelligence that the Swedes, at the instigation of France, had broken into Brandenburg. Hastening back to his own country without delay, he took the enemy by surprise, and at the head of about 6000 men gained a brilliant victory over twice that number of Swedish troops at Fehrbellin (1675), a small town to the north-west of Berlin. This success over the hitherto invincible Swedes lent great prestige to the elector’s arms, and he followed it up by a series of vigorous campaigns, in which, with the aid of Denmark, he swept Brandenburg and Pomerania clear of the invaders, capturing Stettin in 1677 and Stralsund in 1678. The invasion of Prussia from Livonia, which formed the last effort of the Swedes, was also triumphantly repelled, the most memorable incident of the short struggle being the elector’s forced march over the frozen surface of the Frische Haff. At the peace of St Germain (1679), however, owing to the influence of France and the lukewarm support of the emperor, Frederick William saw himself forced to restore Hither Pomerania to Sweden. The policy of the last years of the Great Elector may be described as an endeavour to hold the balance between France and the emperor. At first he joined in a somewhat unnatural alliance with Louis XIV., but after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685) he drew nearer to Austria and covered the emperor’s rear in his war with the Turks. At his death, which took place in 1688, he was engaged in helping the prince of Orange to prepare for his descent on England.

The reign of the Great Elector forms one of the most signal instances in history of the conquest of adverse circumstances by personal energy and merit; and it is with un reason that Prussian historians describe him as the second founder of the state. At his accession the greater part of his territory was in the occupation of strangers and devastated by war, and in European politics Brandenburg was regarded as merely an appendage of the empire. Its army was of little value; its soil was poor; and its revenue was insignificant. To other sources of weakness were added the scattered nature of the electoral possessions, their mutual jealousies, and their separate interests. At Frederick William’s death the new north German state of Brandenburg-Prussia was a power that had to be reckoned with in all European combinations. Inferior to Austria alone among the states of the empire, it was regarded as the head and patron of German Protestantism; while the fact that one-third of its territory lay outside the empire added to its independent importance. Its area had been raised to 43,000 square miles; its revenue had multiplied fivefold; and its small army was nowhere surpassed in efficiency. The elector had overthrown Sweden and inherited her position on the Baltic, and he had offered a steady and not ineffectual resistance to the ambition of France.

While thus winning for himself a position in the councils of Europe, the elector was not less active in strengthening the central authority within his dominions, and the transformation effected during his reign in the internal government of the state was not less striking than that in its external importance. Frederick William found Brandenburg a constitutional state, in which the legislative power was shared between the elector and the diet; he left it to his successor as in substance an absolute monarchy. Many circumstances helped him in effecting this change, among the chief of which were the want of harmonious action on the part of the estates and the accelerated decline of the political power of the towns. The substitution of a permanent excise for the subsidies granted from time to time by the estates also tended to increase the elector’s independence, and the Government officials (Steuerräthe) appointed to collect this tax in the towns gradually absorbed many of the administrative functions of the local authorities. The nobles and prelates generally preferred to raise their quota according to the old method of bede or "contribution," and this weakened the last bond of common interest between them and the estate of the burghers. In Brandenburg the elector met with little opposition in establishing his personal sovereignty, and after 1653 no general diet of Brandenburg was held. In Cleves and Mark he gained his end simply by an overwhelming display of force; but in Prussia, where the spirit of independence was fostered by its history and by its distance from the seat of power, he found much greater difficulty. His emancipation from the suzerainty of Poland gave him a great advantage in the struggle, though the estates on their side averred that their relation with Poland was one that could not be dissolved except by common consent. It was not until the elector had occupied Königsberg with an armed force, and imprisoned the one (Burgomaster Roth) and executed the other (Baron Kalkstein) of the principal champions of independence, that he was able to bend the estates to his will. Arbitrary and unconstitutional as this conduct seems to us, we must not forget that Frederick William’s idea of the functions of an absolute prince was very superior to the unqualified egotism of the French monarchs, and that, while he insisted upon being master in his own house, it was that he might at the same time be the first servant of the state. In his eyes absolute government was the best guarantee of the common welfare, and was not sought merely for the sake of personal aggrandizement. It is not without significance in connexion with this that beyond his own territories he twice espoused the cause of the people against an absolute ruler, first in opposing Louis XIV., and again in aiding William of Orange.

In matters of general administration Frederick William showed himself a prudent and careful ruler, and laid the foundation of the future greatness of Prussia in almost every department. The military and bureaucratic systems of the country both received their first important impulse in this reign. The wounds inflicted by the Thirty Years at War were in a great measure healed, and the finances and credit of the state were established on a firm basis. Agriculture and commerce were improved and encouraged by a variety of useful measures, and education was not neglected. The elector even established Prussian colonies in Africa, and formed a small but efficient navy. In to matters of religion Brandenburg stands out prominently as the only country of the time in which all Christian confessions were not only tolerated but placed upon an equal footing. The condition of the peasantry, however, reached almost its lowest ebb, and the "recess" or charter of 1653 practically recognizes the existence of villainage. While the barons had been losing power on the one side as opposed to the elector, they had been increasing it on the other at the expense of the peasants. The Thirty Years’ War afforded them frequent opportunities of replacing the village "Schulzen" with manorial courts; and the fact that their quota of taxation was wholly wrung from the holdings of the peasants made the burden of the latter four or five times as great as that of the towns. The state of public morals also still left much to be desired, while the clergy were too much occupied with squabbles over Lutheranism and Calvinism to be an effective instrument of reform.

The Great Elector’s son Frederick I. (1688-1713) was an ostentatious and somewhat frivolous prince, who hazarded the acquisitions of his father by looking on his position as assured and by aiming rather at external tokens of his dignity than at a further consolidation of the basis on which it rested. The Brandenburg troops showed all their wonted prowess in the war of the second coalition against Louis XIV. and in that of the Spanish Succession; but Frederick’s interests were only mediately concerned, and neither the peace of Ryswick (1697) nor that of Utrecht (1713) brought him any very tangible advantage. Brandenburg soldiers also helped the emperor in his wars with the Turks, and English readers should not forget that Frederick’s action in covering the Dutch frontier with 6000 troops left William of Orange free scope in his expedition to England. The most notable incident in Frederick’s reign was, however, his acquisition of the title of king of Prussia, which long formed the principal object of his policy, and which led him to make important concessions to all whose cooperation was necessary. The emperor’s consent was finally purchased by the promise of a contingent of 8000 men to aid him in the War of the Spanish Succession, and on 18th January 1701 Frederick crowned himself at Königsberg with accompanying ceremonies of somewhat inflated grandeur. Elector Frederick III of Brandenburg became henceforth King Frederick I. of Prussia, [8-1] the title being taken from that part of his territories in which he had no suzerain to acknowledge. Superficial as this incident may at first sight appear, n added considerably to the moral and political momentum of the country, and its advantages were reaped by Frederick’s two vigorous successors. About the same time (1697) the elector of Saxony also acquired the kingly dignity by his election to the throne of Poland, but in doing so he had to become a Roman Catholic, and thus left the Hohenzollerns without a rival among the Protestant dynasties of Germany. Frederick was an extravagant ruler, who lavished large sums in maintaining his personal state; but his expenditure was not wholly of this profitless nature, since he founded the university of Halle as a school of liberal theology, established academies of art and science at Berlin, and patronized men of literary eminence. In this he was perhaps mainly inspired by his talented wife Sophia Charlotte, a sister of George I. of England.

The court of Vienna had consoled itself for the growing power of Prussia under the Great Elector by the reflexion that it was probably of a temporary nature and due mainly to the vigorous individuality of that prince. The events of Frederick I.’s reign seemed to justify this view. At his accession Prussia might fairly claim to rank as the second state of Germany and possessed considerable influence as a European power of all but the first order. This, however, had been changed before the death of Frederick. Bavaria, Saxony, and Hanover had all raised themselves to at least a level with Prussia, which now sank back into the position of a merely German state and loyal supporter of the empire Frederick’s preoccupation in the western wars had allowed Sweden to reassert her pre-eminence in northern Europe, and it was Russia and not Prussia that now impeded her progress. The internal soundness of the country had also suffered: the finances were in a state of complete disorganization, and the burden of taxation was almost insupportable. If Frederick’s successor had not been a man of vigorous character the downhill progress might have continued until it had removed Prussia altogether from the list of important states. Perhaps the general estimate of Frederick’s character is unduly low owing to the fact that he was followed as well as preceded by a ruler of unusual capacity.

His son Frederick William I. (1713-1740) possessed administrative talents of no mean order and was singularly painstaking, industrious, and determined in carrying out his plans. Though marked by no great external achievements or exciting events, his reign is of the utmost importance in the Prussian annals from having checked the threatened downfall of Prussia and paved the way for Frederick the Great. By carefully husbanding his finances Frederick William filled his treasury and was able to keep on foot one of the largest and best disciplined armies in Europe, thereby securing for Prussia an influence in European councils altogether disproportionate to its size and in population. In internal management he made Prussia the model state of Europe, though his administration was of a purely arbitrary type, in which the estates were never consulted and his ministers were merely clerks to register his he decrees. The first act of the young king, who was as economical as his father was extravagant, was to institute he a salutary reform in the expensive institutions of the court; and some idea of the drastic nature of this change may be gathered from the fact that the annual allowance for the salaries and pensions of the chief court official and civil servants was at once reduced from 276,000 to 55,000 thalers. The peace of Utrecht (1713), which added Guelders to the Prussian territories, left Frederick William free to turn his attention to the northern war then raging between Sweden on the one side and Russia, Poland and Denmark on the other. Though at first disposed to be friendly to Sweden, he was forced by circumstances to take up arms against it. In September 1713 Stettin was captured by the allies and handed over to the custody of Frederick William, who paid the expenses of the siege and undertook to retain possession of the town until the end of the war. But Charles XII. refused to recognize this arrangement and returned from his exile in Turkey to demand the immediate restitution of the town. With this demand the Prussian monarch naturally declined to comply, unless the money he had advanced was reimbursed, and the upshot was the outbreak of the only war in which Frederick William ever engaged. The struggle was of short duration and was practically ended in 1715 by the capture of Stralsund by the united Prussians, Saxons, and Danes under the command of the king of Prussia. The Swedes were driven from Pomerania, and at the peace of 1720 Frederick William received the greater part of Vorpommern, including the important seaport of Stettin. Sweden now disappeared from the ranks of the great powers, and Prussia was left without a rival in northern Germany.

A detailed history of Frederick William’s reign would necessitate the recital of a long and tedious series of diplomatic proceedings, centring in the question of the succession to the duchies of Jülich and Berg. In 1725 we find the king trusting for support to an alliance with England, while the queen has set her heart on a double marriage between her eldest son and daughter and an English princess and prince. The treaty of Wusterhausen between Austria and Prussia was concluded in the following year, and was confirmed with some modifications by the treaty of Berlin in 1728. Frederick William engaged to recognize the Pragmatic Sanction, while the emperor on his side undertook to support Prussia’s claims to Jülich and Berg. The policy of the latter, however, was far from straightforward, as he had already entered into a similar compact with the count palatine of Sulzbach, the rival claimant to the succession, who was a Roman Catholic and therefore a more sympathetic ally. Frederick William’s intervention in the matter of the succession to the throne of Poland, rendered vacant by the death of Augustus II. in 1733, proved barren of advantage to Prussia and failed to secure the hoped-for reversion of the duchy of Courland. A Prussian contingent took part none the less in the ensuing war between Austria and France, but Austria concluded peace in 1735 without consulting her ally. In 1737 the king was resolute enough to withstand the pressure brought to bear upon him by England, France, Holland, and Austria in order to induce him to submit to their settlement of the Jülich-Berg question; and in 1739, convinced at last of the confirmed duplicity of the emperor, he turned to his hereditary enemy for help and concluded a defensive alliance with France. This action may be looked upon as marking the end of that phase in the relations of the houses of Hapsburg and Hohenzollern in which the latter regarded the former with simple loyalty as its natural suzerain; the rivalry between Austria and Prussia had begun, and for the rest of the century formed the pivot on which the politics of Europe mainly turned. Frederick William died in 1740, conscious of his diplomatic failures, but confident that his son would repair his errors.

If the external history of Frederick William’s reign is not especially glorious, and if in diplomacy he was worsted by the emperor, the country at least enjoyed the benefits am of a twenty-five years’ peace and those of a well-meaning, though somewhat too patriarchal, government. During this reign the revenues of Prussia were doubled, and the king left at his death a well-filled treasury and an army of 85,000 men. Though not ranking higher than twelfth among the European states in extent and population, Prussia occupied the fourth place in point of military power. The king himself took the greatest interest in the management of his army, in which the discipline was of the strictest; and he carried the habits of the military martinet into all departments of the administration. His untiring industry occupied itself with the minutest details of government, and his downright blunt character showed there to greater advantage than in diplomatic circles. His chief innovation was the abolition of the distinction between the military and civil funds, and the assignment of the entire financial management of the country to a general directory of finance, war, and domains. Hitherto the proceeds of the excise and contribution had been paid into the military chest, while those of the royal monopolies and domains belonged to the civil service, deficiencies in one department being made good by the surplus of the other. Now, however, the directory was instructed to pay for everything out of a common fund, and so to regulate the expenditure that there should invariably be a surplus at the end of the year. As the army absorbed five-sevenths of the revenue, the civil administration had to be conducted with the greatest economy. The king himself set the example of the frugality which he expected from his officials, and contented himself with a civil list of 52,000 thalers (£7800). The domains were now managed so as to yield a greater income than ever before, and important reforms were made in the system of taxation. By the substitution of a payment in money for the obsolete military tenure the nobles were deprived of their practical exemption from taxation, and they were also required to pay taxes for all the peasant holdings they had absorbed. Attempts were made to better the condition of the peasants, and the worst features of villainage were abolished in the crown domains. The military system of cantonment, according to which each regiment was allotted a district in which to recruit, was of constitutional as well as military importance, since it brought the peasants into direct contact with the royal officials. The collection of the taxes of the peasantry was removed from the hands of the landowners. The duties of the state officials were laid down with great detail, and their performance was exacted with great severity. Official corruption was punished with extreme rigour. Justice seems to have been administered in an upright if somewhat Draconian manner, though the frequent and often arbitrary infliction of the penalty of death by the king strikes us with astonishment. The agricultural and industrial interests of the country were fostered with great zeal. The most important industrial undertaking was the introduction of the manufacture of woollen cloth, the royal factory at Berlin supplying uniforms for the entire army. The commercial regulations, conceived in a spirit of rigid protection, were less successful. In the ecclesiastical sphere the king was able to secure toleration for the Protestants in other parts of Germany by reprisals on his own Roman Catholic subjects, and he also gave welcome to numerous Protestant refugees, including 18,000 exiled peasants from Salzburg. For art, science, and the higher culture he had no respect, but he has the credit of founding the common-school system of Prussia and of making elementary education compulsory.

After the accession of Frederick the Great (1740-1786) the external history of Prussia coincides to such an extent with that of the German empire that it has already been treated with considerable detail in the article GERMANY (vol. x. pp. 503-4 ; see also FREDERICK II.). The outline of Frederick’s foreign policy was probably determined in some degree by the events of the later years of his father’s reign, and Austrian duplicity in the matter of Jülich gave him a colourable pretext for his hostile attitude in reviving the long dormant claims of Prussia to the Silesian duchies. Within a year of his accession he had embarked on the first Silesian War, and this was closely followed by the second, which ended in 1745, leaving Frederick in undisputed possession of almost the whole of Silesia, with the frontier that still exists. East Friesland, the Prussian claim to which dated from the time of the Great Elector, was absorbed in 1744 on the death without issue of the last duke. The two Silesian wars completely exhausted the stores left by Frederick William, both of grenadiers and thalers, and Frederick gladly welcomed the interval of peace to amass new treasures and allow his subjects time to recover from their exertions. The measures he took were so successful that when the Seven Years’ War broke out in 1756 he had an army of 150,000 men at his command, representing about one-seventh of the available male population of his little kingdom. He had also a fund of eleven million thalers in his treasury, though this would have gone but a small way in defraying the expenses of the protracted struggle had he not been assisted by the subsidies of England and able to make the fertile plains of Saxony his chief basis of supply. The succession of brilliant campaigns in which Frederick maintained himself against a coalition embracing nearly the whole of Europe has been narrated in the article AUSTRIA (vol. iii. p. 127 sq.). As Macaulay points out in a somewhat highly-coloured passage, Frederick ruled over a population of less than five million souls, while his adversaries could draw their armies from a joint population of a hundred millions. The disproportion in wealth was at least as great. Nor was the small size of Frederick’s land made up for by its strong patriotism and loyalty; on the contrary, the affections of his subjects had been partially alienated by the severity of his rule and the weight of taxation. Prussia had no strong natural bulwarks on its frontiers, but lay exposed to every foe. Yet Frederick’s brilliant military genius was able to counteract all these disadvantages and carry on the contest in spite of all odds.

Though without gain in extent or population, Prussia emerged from the war as an undoubted power of the first rank, and henceforth completely eclipsed Saxony, Bavaria, and Hanover, while it was plain that Austria would no longer stand without a rival for the hegemony of the German empire. The glorious victories over the French and Russians also awakened a spirit of German patriotism that had hitherto been almost unknown. But the price paid for these results was enormous. Of the 850,000 soldiers who, as is estimated, perished during the war about 180,000 fell in the service of Prussia, and the gross population of the kingdom had decreased in seven years to the extent of half a million souls. The misery and poverty indirectly attendant on the war were incalculable. Numerous Prussian towns and villages were destroyed or made tenantless; large tracts were left uncultivated for want of labourers; and famine reigned to such an extent that even the seed-corn was converted into bread. The development of the country was thrown back for many years, which were almost a repetition of the period succeeding the Thirty Years’ War. But, while nearly a century elapsed before the traces of that struggle disappeared, Frederick, who showed himself great in peace as in war, repaired most of the ravages of the Seven Years’ War in a tenth of the time. By great dexterity in the management of his finances he had kept clear of debt, and was soon able to advance large sums to the most impoverished districts. Foreign colonists were invited to repeople the deserted villages; taxes were in several instances remitted for a series of years; the horses of the army were employed in farm labour; and individual effort in every department was liberally supported by the Government. By 1770 nearly all the ruined villages had been rebuilt; the ground was again under cultivation; order had been restored; the vacant offices had been filled; and the debased currency had been called in. Throughout the kingdom agriculture was encouraged by the drainage of marshy districts; industry was extended by the introduction of new manufactures, by bounties, and by monopolies; and commerce was fostered by a series of well-meant, if economically unsound, measures of protection. Frederick’s methods of administration did not greatly differ from those of his predecessor, though the unrelenting severity of Frederick William was relaxed and the peculiarities of his system toned down. Frederick’s industry and activity were as great as those of his father, his insight keener, and his views more liberal. His rule was quite as personal and absolute, and the despotism was altered only in so far as the character of the despot was different. His own personal supervision extended to every department, and his idea of his position and duties made him his own first minister in the widest and most exacting sense of the term. He endeavoured to spare his subjects as far as was compatible with the immense army he maintained, and sought to raise the necessary revenues rather by improving the resources of the country than by additional taxation. He kept the charges of the civil administration down to the lowest point consistent with efficiency, and the court establishment was very economical, though it avoided the extreme of shabbiness witnessed under Frederick William. His efforts to improve the administration and the bureaucracy were unceasing, and he succeeded in training a body of admirable public servants. One of his most sweeping reforms was in the department of law, where, with the able aid of Cocceji, he carried out a complete revolution both in procedure and personnel. The expenses of justice were greatly lightened, and no suit was allowed to drag on for more than a year. A complete divorce was effected between the departments of justice and provincial administration, a change that greatly strengthened the position of the private citizen in any contest with the officials of Government. One of the king’s first acts was to abolish legal torture, and he rarely sanctioned capital punishment except in cases of murder. The application of the privilegium de non appellando (1746) freed Prussia from all relations with the imperial courts and paved the way for a codification of the common law of the land, which was begun under Frederick but not completed till the end of the century. In matters of religion Frederick not only exercised the greatest toleration, remarking that each of his subjects might go to heaven after his own fashion, but distinctly disclaimed the connexion of the state with any one confession. Equal liberty was granted in speaking and writing. Though his finances did not allow him to do much directly for education, his example and his patronage of men of letters exercised a most salutary effect. The old system of rigid social privilege was, however, still maintained, and unsurmountable barriers separated the noble from the citizen and the citizen from the peasant. The position of the last was very deplorable; villainage still to a great extent existed, and the mental attitude of the rural population was servile in the extreme. [10-1] The paramount defect of Frederick’s administration, as future events proved, was the neglect of any effort to encourage independence and power of self-government among the people. Every measure emanated from the king himself, and the country learned to rely on him alone for help in every emergency. Public opinion on political matters could not be said to exist; and the provincial diets met simply to receive the instructions of the royal agents.

In 1772 Prussia and Austria, in order to prevent an overweening growth of Russia, joined in the first partition of Poland. Frederick’s share consisted of West Prussia and the Netze district, a most welcome addition, filling up the gap between the great mass of his territories and the isolated district of East Prussia. It had also this advantage over later acquisitions at Poland’s expense, that it was a thoroughly German land, having formed part of then colonizations of the Teutonic Order. In 1778 Prussia found herself once more in opposition to Austria on the question of the Bavarian succession, but the war that ensued was almost entirely nominal, and the difficulty was adjusted without much bloodshed. The same question elicited the last action of importance in which Frederick engaged,—the formation of a "Fürstenbund," or league of German princes under Prussian supremacy, to resist the encroachments of Austria. The importance of this union was soon obscured by the momentous events of the French Revolution, but it was a significant foreshadowing of the duel of Austria and Prussia for the pre-eminence in Germany. Frederick died on 17th August 1786, having increased his territories to an area of 75,000 square miles, with a population of five and a half millions. The revenue also had immensely increased and now amounted to about twenty million thalers annually, of which, however, thirteen were spent on the army. The treasury contained a fund of sixty million thalers, and the land was free of debt.

A continuation of the personal despotism under which al Prussia had now existed for seventy years, as well as of its disproportionate influence in Europe, would have required a ruler with something of the iron will and ability of Frederick the Great. Unfortunately Frederick’s nephew and successor, Frederick William II. (1786-1797), had neither the energy nor the insight that his position demanded. He was too undecided to grasp the opportunity of adding to Prussia’s power by adhering to the vigorous external policy of his predecessor, nor did he on the other hand make any attempt to meet the growing discontent of his subjects under their heavy burdens by putting himself at the head of an internal movement of liberal reform. The rule of absolutism continued, though the power now lay more in the hands of a "camarilla" or cabinet than in those of the monarch; and the statesmen who now came to the front were singularly short-sighted and inefficient. The freedom of religion and the press left by Frederick the Great was abrogated in 1788 by royal ordinance. In 1787 the army engaged in an expensive and useless campaign against Holland. The abandonment of Frederick’s policy was shown in a tendency to follow the lead of Austria, which culminated in an alliance with that power against revolutionary France. But in 1795 Prussia, suspicious of the Polish plans of Russia and Austria, concluded the separate peace of Basel, almost the only redeeming feature of which was the stipulation that all north German states beyond a certain line of demarcation should participate in its benefits. This practically divided Germany into two camps and inflicted a severe blow on the imperial system. The indifference with which Prussia relinquished to France German lands on the left bank of the Rhine, compared with her eagerness to increase her Slavonic territories on the east, was certainly one of the great blunders of the reign. Prussia’s share in the second and third partitions of Poland (1793 and 1795) nearly doubled her extent, but added little or nothing to her real power. The twelve years following the peace of Basel form one of the most sombre periods of the history of Prussia. Her prestige was lost by her persistent and ill-timed neutrality in the struggle with France; the old virtues of economy, order, and justice disappeared from the bureaucracy; the army was gradually losing its excellence and was weakened rather than strengthened by the hordes of disaffected Polish recruits; the treasury was exhausted and a large debt incurred; the newly-awakened feeling of German patriotism had died away, especially among the upper classes.

Frederick William III. (1797-1840) possessed many virtues that did him credit in his private capacity, but he lacked the vigour that was at this juncture imperatively n required from a ruler of Prussia, while he was unfortunately surrounded by counsellors who had as little conception as himself of Prussia’s proper rôle. He continued to adhere closely to a policy of timid neutrality and seemed content to let Prussia slip back into the position of a second-rate state, the attitude of which in the great European struggle could be of no special importance. Not even the high-handed occupation of Hanover by the French in 1803 could arouse him; and the last shred of self-respect seemed to have been parted with in 1805 when Prussia consented to receive Hanover, the property of its ally England, from the hands of France. The formation of the Confederation of the Rhine in 1806 and the intelligence that France had agreed to restore Hanover to England at last convinced Frederick William of what he had to fear from Napoleon; while Napoleon on his side, being now free of his other antagonists, was only too glad of an opportunity to destroy his tool. Prussia declared war on 9th October 1806; and the short campaign that ensued showed that the army of Frederick the Great had lost its virtue, and that Prussia, single-handed, was no match for the great French commander. On 14th October the Prussian armies were overthrown at Jena and Auerstädt, and a total collapse set in. Disgraceful capitulations of troops and fortresses without a struggle followed one another in rapid succession; the court fled to East Prussia; and Napoleon entered Berlin in triumph. At the peace of Tilsit (9th July 1807) Frederick William lost half his kingdom, including all that had been acquired at the second and third partitions of Poland and the whole of the territory to the west of the Elbe. An enormous war indemnity was also demanded, and the Prussian fortresses were occupied by the French until this should be paid. Prussia now paid heavily for its past remissness and drained the cup of humiliation to the dregs.

The next half-dozen years form a period of the greatest significance in the history of Prussia, embracing, as they do, the turning-point in the moral regeneration of the country. The disasters of 1806 elicited a strong spirit of devoted patriotism, which was fanned by the exertions of the "Tugendbund," or League of Virtue, and by the writings of men like Fichte and Arndt. This was accompanied by a wonderful revelation of vitality and recuperative power. The credit of the reformation belongs mainly to the great minister Stein, and in the second place to the chancellor Hardenberg. The condition on which Stein based his acceptance of office was itself of immense importance; he insisted that the system of governing through irresponsible cabinet councillors, which had gradually become customary, should cease, and that the responsible ministers of departments should be at once the confidential advisers and the executive agents of the king. Stein’s designs and wishes extended to the establishment of a regular system of parliamentary and local government like that of England, but he had not an opportunity to do much more than begin the work. His edict of 1807 abolished serfdom and obliterated the legal distinction of classes by establishing freedom of exchange in laud and free choice of occupation. [11-1] The "Städteordnung" of 1808 reformed the municipalities and granted them important rights of self-government. His administrative reforms amounted to a complete reconstruction of the ministerial departments and the machinery of provincial government, and practically established the system now in force. In 1810 Hardenberg, with a precipitancy which Stem would to scarcely have approved, continued the reform in the condition of the peasants by making them absolute owners of part of their holdings, the landlords obtaining the rest as an indemnity for their lost dues. [12-1] The revolution thus fu effected in Prussia has been aptly compared in its results to the great revolution in France; but, while there the reforms were exacted by a people in arms, here they were rather forced upon the people by the crown. The army was also reorganized by Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, while the condition imposed by Napoleon that it should not exceed 42,000 men was practically evaded by replacing each body of men by another as soon as it was fairly versed in military exercises. The educational reforms of William von Humboldt established the school system of Prussia on its present basis, and the university of Berlin was founded in 1809.

Frederick William hesitated to take part in the Austrian rising of 1809, but his opportunity came in 1813, when Napoleon fled from Russia, denuded of his troops. General York, commander of the corps that Prussia had been obliged to contribute to the French expedition, anticipated the a formal declaration of war by joining the Russians with his troops on his own responsibility (30th December 1812). On the outbreak of the war the people rose en masse and with the utmost enthusiasm. The regular army was supported by hosts of "Landwehr," or militia, eager to share in the emancipation of their country. A treaty of alliance between Russia and Prussia was concluded at Kalisch, and Austria, after some hesitation, also joined the league against Napoleon. In the struggle that followed (see AUSTRIA, vol. iii. pp. 134-135) Prussia played one of the most prominent parts, and her general Blucher ranks high among the heroes of the war. Between 1813 and the battle of Waterloo Prussia lost 140,000 men, and strained her financial resources to the utmost. As compensation she received at the congress of Vienna the northern half of Saxony, her old possessions to the west of the Elbe,

Swedish Pomerania, the duchies of Berg and Jülich, and other districts in Westphalia and on the Rhine. The acquisitions of the last partition of Poland, with the exception of the grand-duchy of Posen, were resigned to Russia, Friesland went to Hanover, and Bavaria was allowed to retain Baireuth and Ansbach, which had come into her Lands in 1806. This rearrangement of the map did not wholly restore Prussia to its former extent, as its area was now only 108,000 square miles compared with 122,000 square miles at the beginning of 1806, but the substitution of German for Slavonic territory and the shifting of the centre of gravity towards the west more than made up for any slight loss in mere size. Hanover still formed a huge wedge splitting Prussia completely in two, and the western frontier was very ragged. Prussi’'s position required caution, but forced upon it a national German policy, and the situation of the new lands was vastly more effectual in determining the future leader of Germany than was Austria's aggrandizement in Italy. The work of incorporating the new provinces was accomplished with as little friction as possible, and the Prussian statesmen had the good sense to leave the Rhenish districts in the full enjoyment of the institutions they had been used to under the French régime.

The remainder of Frederick William III.’s reign, though marked by much material and social progress, was in the political sphere a period of the most deplorable reaction. At first the king seemed disposed to fulfil his promise of 1815 and grant the country a constitution, but ultimately both he and his minister Hardenberg suffered themselves to be dragged in the wake of the retrogressive policy of Metternich. The only concession made to the popular demand was the utterly inadequate patent of 1823, appointing triennial provincial diets with a merely consultative function. The king also allowed himself to be alarmed by the ultra-liberal movement at the universities, and joined in the notorious Carlsbad decrees (1819) and in the senseless prosecutions of demagogues that formed the sequel. Many of Prussia’s noblest and most patriotic sons now suffered unmerited punishment, and the Government showed a total incapacity to understand the real state of affairs. Respect for the aged king, however, prevented an outburst during his reign. After 1830 Prussia began to shake herself clear of the Austrian leading-strings, and the establishment of the "Zollverein," or customs union of the German states under Prussian supremacy, was a decided step towards a policy of independence. In ecclesiastical matters this reign is memorable for the union forced by the crown upon the Lutherans and Calvinists, and for the preliminary symptoms of the "Culturkampf."

Frederick William IV. (1840-1861), a man of character and intelligence, began his reign promisingly by an amnesty for political offenders and by well-meant concessions to the dissatisfied Ultramontanes; but it soon became evident that he held too exalted an idea of the divine right of kings willingly to grant such a constitution as was required. Then followed the contest between the crown and the people, the various steps of which .have been chronicled in the article GERMANY. At last the king had to give way and grant a constitution based upon democratic principles, and substituting a representative parliament for the old Prussian system of estates. This constitution was promulgated on 31st January 1850, and Prussia therewith formally entered the ranks of modern and constitutional states. But in the following years the king maintained as reactionary a policy as was in any way compatible with the constitution, receiving his chief support in this line of action from the Prussian "Junkerthum," or squirearchy. In external politics the chief feature of the reign is Prussia’s neglect of the opportunity to take up a strong position as the political and military leader of northern and central Germany: the king refused the imperial crown offered to him by the Frankfort Parliament in 1849, and allowed Prussia to play a subordinate role at Olmütz in the following year. Towards the close of his life the Prussian Government was distrusted at home and discredited abroad.

In 1858 William, prince of Prussia, became regent in consequence of the mental illness of his brother, and in 1861 he succeeded to the throne as William I. His accession was hailed as likely to increase both the liberalism of a Prussia’s internal institutions and the vigour of its external policy; and the second at least of these expectations was not disappointed. But at an early period of his reign the king became involved in a constitutional dispute with the House of Representatives, which declined to grant the supplies necessary for an extensive system of military reorganization. Bismarck, who became prime minister in 1862, refused to allow the crown to be hampered by parliamentary restrictions and raised the funds required in defiance of the attitude of the lower house. This internal conflict may have had its influence in forcing upon the ministry the necessity of a strong foreign policy, especially in its dealings with Austria, though the party of reform believed that the hegemony of Germany might have been secured by Prussia without war if she had simply placed herself at the head of the liberal movement. Prussia’s neutral attitude in the Austro-Italian War was the first sign of the coming storm; and then followed the Schleswig-Holstein episode, culminating in the war of 1866 (see AUSTRIA), the successful issue of which expelled Austria from Germany and left its rival in undisputed possession. The territorial acquisitions which Prussia now made, consisting of Hanover, Hesse-Cassel, Hesse-Nassau, Frankfort, and Schleswig-Holstein, increased its extent by about a fifth and for the first time gave a satisfactory rounding-off to its form. The Prussian landtag, carried away by success, granted Bismarck, by a large majority, the indemnity he had the grace to ask for in regard to his previous unconstitutional proceedings in the financial dispute.

The war of 1866 gave the deathblow to the Germanic Confederation of 1815, and in its place appeared the North German Confederation under the lead of Prussia. The transformation was completed five years later, after the successful war with France, when the south German states also joined the union and the king of Prussia became the German emperor. The united Germany that Frederick the Great had sought in the Fürstenbund, that Frederick William III. had tried to organize in 1806 in opposition to the Confederation of the Rhine, that Frederick William IV. had hoped to achieve in 1850, was at length an accomplished fact. In entering this union Prussia may in a sense be said to have abdicated her position as a great power in favour of Germany, but her influence within the empire, practically comprising that of all the small north German states, is so overwhelming that her identity is not likely ever to be wholly lost. Any measure increasing the power of the empire at the expense of the individual states is tantamount to an increase of the power of Prussia.

Since the Franco-German War the history of Prussia has been for the outside world practically identical with that of Germany and has centred in the figure of Prince Bismarck. The policy of the imperial chancellor and Prussian premier is essentially autocratic in its nature, and seems to have for its keynote the necessity of maintaining at any price a strong central Government to cope with external emergencies. He identifies himself with no party, but generally manages by timely concessions to form such temporary parliamentary combinations as are necessary to carry the measures he has most at heart. On the other hand, he does not hesitate freely to call into requisition the royal veto on resolutions of parliament of which he does not approve. His reversion to a strong protectionist policy, which became marked in 1879, the date to which the history is brought down in the article GERMANY, has so far proved permanent, and numerous protective measures have been passed, though his favourite scheme of a Government monopoly of tobacco has been decisively rejected both by the imperial and the Prussian chambers. As a pendant to these measures may be mentioned the laws intended to improve the position of the working classes, most of which are inspired by a spirit of state socialism. The alienation of the National Liberals, occasioned by the change in Bismarck’s economic policy, has compelled him to seek his later majorities in a combination of Conservatives and Ultramontanes, the benefit of which has been mainly reaped by the latter. On the accession of Pope Leo XIII. some conciliatory advances were made by Rome and Prussia; in 1881 diplomatic relations were reopened with the Vatican, and several important concessions were made by a measure passed in 1883. The May laws have not been repealed, but they have latterly been put in force with much less stringency, and a great many of the vacant bishoprics and pastorates have been at least temporarily filled. The Ultramontanes continue to form one of the largest "fractions" both in the reichstag and in the Prussian landtag. In spite of the continued existence of the special law passed against the socialists, which has been prolonged from time to time, their numbers have grown steadily, and in the autumnal election of 1884 they returned no fewer than twenty-four of their candidates to the reichstag, polling 550,000 votes, or about ten per cent. of the total number recorded. Their success was especially marked in Berlin, where they returned two members and polled 70,000 votes. The same election was also remarkable for the diminution of the German Liberalists (Deutsch-Freisinnige), a party formed by the fusion of the Progressists and Secessionists.

Perhaps the most significant event in the recent history of Germany has been her entrance into the ranks of the colonial powers by the annexation in 1884 of several districts on the west coast of Africa, and among the islands of the Pacific Ocean. In this step Prince Bismarck has revived a policy that has slumbered since the time of the Great Elector (see p. 8), but there seems little reason to doubt that this new scheme of colonization will prove of more permanent importance than that of the 17th century.


930. Foundation of the North Mark, the nucleus of Brandenburg. 1134. Albert the Bear is invested with the North Mark, and founds the Ascanian line of margraves. 1230-83. Conquest of Preussen by the Teutonic Order. 1324-66. Margraves of the Bavarian line. 1356. Brandenburg definitely recognized as an electorate. 1373-1413. Luxemburg line of electors. 1415. Frederick of Hohenzollern becomes elector of Brandenburg. 1539. Reformation proclaimed by Joachim II. 1618. Duchy of Prussia inherited by Elector John Sigismund. 1640. Accession of Frederick William, the Great Elector. 1648. Brandenburg-Prussia receives Farther Pomerania, Magdeburg, Halberstadt, and Minden at the peace of Westphalia. 1667. Independence of the duchy of Prussia recognized. 1675. Victory over the Swedes at Fehrbellin. 1701. Elector Frederick assumes the title of "king of Prussia." 1720. Acquisition of Hither Pomerania. 1740. Accession of Frederick the Great. 1742. Acquisition of Silesia at the close of the first Silesian War. 1744-45. Second Silesian War. 1756-63. Seven Years’ War ; principal victories : Prague (6th May 1757), Rossbach (5th November 1757), Leuthen (5th December 1757), Liegnitz (15th August 1760), and Torgau (3d November 1760) ; principal defeats : Kolin (18th June 1757), Hochkirch (14th October 1758), Kunersdorf (12th August 1759). 1772. First partition of Poland; acquisition of West Prussia. 1792. War with France. 1793. Second partition of Poland ; acquisition of South Prussia. 1795. Third partition of Poland; acquisition of New East Prussia; peace of Basel, providing for Prussia’s neutrality in the struggle with France. 1806. War declared against Napoleon ; defeats of Jena and Auerstädt; Prussia conquered by the French. 1807. Peace of Tilsit and dismemberment of the kingdom. 1808. Beginning of Stein’s constitutional reforms. 1813. War of liberation; battle of Leipsic (16th to 19th October). 1814-15. Congress of Vienna; Prussia rehabilitated; establishment of the Germanic Confederation. 1815. Battle of Waterloo. 1850. Promulgation of the Prussian constitution. 1864. War with Denmark. 1866. War with Austria; battle of Koniggrätz (3d July); acquisition of Hanover, Schleswig-Holstein, and electoral Hesse; establishment of North German Confederation. 1870-71. War with Prance. 1871. The king of Prussia proclaimed German emperor.


Physical Features. [13-1] —Fully three-fifths of Prussia belong to the great north European plain and may be generally characterized as lowlands. The plain is much wider on the east, where only the southern margin of Prussia is mountainous, than on the west, where the Hanoverian hills approach to within less than 100 miles of the sea. A line drawn from Dásseldorf through Halle to Breslau would, roughly speaking, divide the flat part of the country from the hilly districts. In the south-east Prussia is separated from Austria and Bohemia by the Sudetic chain, which begins at the valley of the Oder and extends thence towards the north-west. This chain includes the Riesen Gebirge, with the highest mountain in Prussia (Schneekoppe, 5266 feet), and subsides gradually in the hills of Lusatia. The Harz Mountains, however, beyond the Saxon plain, follow the same general direction and may be regarded as a detached continuation of the system. To the south of the Harz the Prussian frontier intersects the northern part of the Thuringian Forest, which is also prolonged towards the north-west by the Weser Hills and the Teutoburgian Forest. The south-west of Prussia is occupied by the plateau of the lower Rhine, including on the left bank the Hundsrück and the Eifel, and on the right the Taunus, the Westerwald, and the Sauerland. Between the lower Rhenish and Thuringian systems are interposed the Vogelsberg, the Rhön, and other hills belonging to the Triassic system of the upper Rhine. The Silesian mountains are composed chiefly of granite, gneiss, and schists, while the Harz and the lower Rhenish plateau are mainly of Devonian and Silurian formation. To the north of the Sauerland is the important Carboniferous system of theRuhr, and there are also extensive coal-fields in Silesia. With the exception of the Danube Prussia is traversed by all the chief rivers of Germany, comprising almost the entire course of the Oder and the Weser. Nearly the whole of the German coast-line belongs to Prussia, and it possesses all the important seaports except the two most important of all, Hamburg and Bremen.

Climate. —The climate of Prussia is rendered more uniform than it would otherwise be by the fact that the average elevation increases from north to south. The greatest extremes of temperature are found between the east and west, the mean annual warmth in the bleak and exposed provinces of the north-east being about 44° Fahr., while that of the sheltered valley of the Rhine is 6° higher. The difference is greatest in winter, when the respective means are 26° and 35°; in summer the difference is not above 2° to 4°. In Prussia as a whole the thermometer ranges from 100° to - 30°, but these extremes are rarely reached. The average annual rainfall is about 21 inches ; it is highest in the hilly district on the west (34 inches) and on the north-west coast (30 to 32 inches), and lowest (16 inches) in the inland parts of the eastern provinces.

Soil.—According to the most recent official returns, about 29 per cent. of the soil of Prussia consists of good loam or clay, 32 per cent. is mediocre or of loam and sand mixed, 31 per cent. is predominantly sandy, and 6 per cent. is occupied by bogs and marshes. The north-eastern provinces contain a high proportion of poor soil, and in the north-west occur large tracts of heath and moor. The reclaimed marshlands in both districts, as well as the soil in the immediate neighbourhood of the rivers, are usually very fertile, and admirable tracts of fruitful ground are found in the valleys of the Rhine and its affluents and in the plain around Magdeburg. Patient and long-continued effort has, however, done much to equalize production, and large crops are now grown in some of the most unpromising parts of the kingdom. Prussia contains a greater proportion of tilled land than any of the countries of south Germany, while it is surpassed in this respect by Saxony, Hesse-Darmstadt, and the Thuringian states. The most fertile Prussian province is Saxony, while the least productive are East and West Prussia. The following table shows the distribution of the cultivable area in the different provinces and in the country as a whole :—


Prussia contains a greater proportion of woodland than any other large country in the south or west of Europe (France 17 per cent., Italy 12 per cent, Great Britain 3 per cent), though not so large a proportion as Russia, Austria, and some of the minor German states. The most extensive forests are in East and West Prussia, Silesia, and Brandenburg, where coniferous trees prevail, and in the Rhenish and Hessian districts, where oaks and beeches are the most prominent growths. The north-west is almost entirely destitute of timber, and peat is there used universally as fuel. The Government forests cover about 6,000,000 acres, or upwards of one-fourth of the whole, and are admirably managed, bringing in an annual revenue of 1 1/4 millions sterling. The state also controls the management of forests in private possession, and exerts itself to secure the planting of waste lands.

Products.—The principal crop in Prussia is rye, of which the ordinary bread of the country is made; it grows in all parts of the kingdom, especially in the north and east, and occupies about one-fourth of the whole tilled surface. Oats occupy an area equal to about half that devoted to rye, and are also grown most extensively in the north-eastern districts. Wheat, which is chiefly cultivated in the south and west, does not cover more than a fourth as much ground as rye. Barley is most largely grown in Saxony and Silesia. Other grain crops are spelt (chiefly on the Rhine), buckwheat (Hanover and Schleswig-Holstein), and millet; maize is grown for (odder in some districts. The produce of grain scarcely covers the consumption and is supplemented by imports of rye and other cereals from Russia and Holland. Potatoes, used both as food and for the distillation of spirits, are cultivated over nearly as large an area as rye and are especially predominant in the eastern provinces. The common beet is extensively grown for the production of sugar in Saxony, Hanover, Silesia, Pomerania, and Brandenburg. Flax and hemp occupy considerable areas in East Prussia, Silesia, and Hanover, while hops are raised chiefly in Posen and Saxony. The cultivation of rape-seed for oil has fallen off since the use of petroleum has become general. The tobacco of Silesia, Brandenburg, Hanover, and the Rhine province is inferior to that of southern Germany; the annual value of Prussian-grown tobacco is about £500,000, or one-fourth of the total produce of the empire. Only a comparatively small part of the Rhenish wine district falls within Prussia, which does not claim more than a sixth (200,000,000-gallons, value £400,000) of the annual produce of Germany; but this includes many of the choicest varieties, such as Steinberger, Johannisberger, and Rüdesheimer. The best vineyards of the Moselle also belong to Prussia, and inferior kinds of wine are produced in Saxony and Lower Silesia. Great quantities of apples, cherries, and plums are raised on the Rhine, in Saxony, and other districts, while market-gardening on an extensive scale is practised near Erfurt and some other large towns. The hay-meadows of the eastern provinces are the largest, but those in the west bear heavier crops. The richest pasture is afforded by the marshlands along the North Sea and by the plain of the lower Rhine, while the large moors of Westphalia and Hanover are of comparatively little value in this respect. The accompanying table shows the yield in tons of the principal crops in 1883, in which year, however, the returns were rather below the average :—


About one-half of the cultivable soil is in the possession of owners, with properties exceeding 180 acres in extent and averaging 860 acres, while one-half of the total number of owners occupy only one-fortieth of the entire area. The manner of distribution varies greatly in different parts of the kingdom, large properties prevailing .in the less fertile regions in the east and peasant-holdings in the west. In the district of Stralsund the average number of land-owners for each German square mile is 100, while in the district of Wiesbaden it is ten times as high. In Silesia and Posen latifundia occupy nearly half the total area, though this disproportion is gradually disappearing there as elsewhere. As a general rule the best crops seem to be raised on the holdings of intermediate size.

Live Stock.—According to an enumeration made in 1883, Prussia contains 2,417,641 horses, 8,737,367 cattle, 14,752,328 sheep, 5,819,136 pigs, and 1,680,686 goats. The province of East Prussia, with the principal Government stud of Trakehnen, is the head-quarters of horse-rearing, and contains the greatest number of horses both relatively (1 per 5 inhabitants) and absolutely (383,555). The horses bred there are generally suitable for the lighter kind of work only, and are in great request for military purposes. Horses of a stouter type are bred in Schleswig-Holstein and on the Rhine, but heavy draught horses have to be imported from France, Holland, Belgium, and Denmark. The best cattle are reared in the maritime provinces, and the highest proportion (65 per 100 inhabitants) is found in Schleswig-Holstein, whence,, as well as from the marshy lowlands of Hanover, large numbers are exported to England. As a rule, however, the south German states are richer in cattle than Prussia. Prussia is one of the leading sheep-breeding countries of Europe, and much has been done to improve the race and increase the value of the flesh and wool. In Pomerania there are 170 sheep for every 100 inhabitants, and West Prussia and Posen also contain a high proportion. The total number of sheep in Prussia is, however, diminishing owing to the spread of agriculture and the increased importation of wool; in 1861 it was nearly 21 millions. Swine abound in the central provinces, and hams and sausages are largely exported from Westphalia, Hanover, and Saxony. Huge flocks of geese are reared in Pomerania, and bee-keeping is a profitable industry in Hanover, East and West Prussia, and the province of the Rhine.

Fisheries.—The fishery on the Baltic Sea and its haffs employs about 15,000 men, and that on the North Sea about 2000 more. In the former the take consists mainly of herrings, flat fish, salmon, mackerel, and eels, while the chief objects of the latter are cod and oysters. Inland fishery has been encouraged by the foundation of numerous piscicultural establishments and by the enactment of close-time laws. Carp, perch, pike, and salmon, the latter especially in the Rhine, are the principal varieties; sturgeon are taken in the Elbe and Oder, and the lakes of East Prussia swarm with bream and lampreys. Game of various kinds abounds in different parts of Prussia, and the lakes are frequented by large flocks of water-fowl.

Minerals.— Although it is obvious that the recent formations of the north German plain can boast of little or no mineral wealth, Prussia still takes rank among the great mining states. Its produce of coal and iron exceeds that of any country in Europe, except Great Britain; in the production of zinc it is the foremost country in the world; and its stores of salt are very considerable. In 1882 the total value of the mineral produce of Prussia was about 17 3/4 millions sterling. About 370,000 persons are employed in its mines, the larger part of whom are engaged in the production of coal. For purposes of administration and supervision the entire country is divided into five mining districts (Oberbergamtsbezirke), the headquarters of which are Breslau, Halle, Klausthal (in the Harz), Dortmund, and Bonn.

The two great deposits of coal are in the basin of the Ruhr on the west, where about 20 million tons are raised annually, and in Upper Silesia, where the beds are still more extensive but the coal of a somewhat inferior quality. The greater part of the smaller but valuable coal-field of the Saar also belongs to Prussia, and other important beds occur in Lower Silesia, near Halle, and near Aix-la-Chapelle. In 1882 Prussia produced upwards of 47 million tons of coal, equal to 90 per cent. of the total yield of Germany, and double the output of 1869. Nearly three-fourths of this amount came from the western coal-fields and upwards of one-fourth from the coal-measures of Silesia. The total value was £11,636,250. Brown coal or lignite is found throughout the whole of Prussia, except in the extreme north-east and north-west, but occurs most plentifully in Saxony, Brandenburg, and north Silesia. In 1882 the produce was nearly 11 million tons, value 1 1/2 millions sterling. Peat is cut in large quantities in Hanover, where 15 per cent. of the surface consists of moorland. Iron is found in all parts of Prussia, occurring in the form of bog-iron ore even in the northern lowlands. The richest districts are those of Coblentz in the province of the Rhine, Arnsberg in Westphalia, Oppein in Silesia, and Wiesbaden. A valuable bed of magnetic-iron ore occurs in the Harz. In 1882 fully 4,000,000 tons of iron ore were raised in Prussia, valued at £1,415,950 and forming 70 per cent. of the total yield of Germany. The quantity of pig-iron smelted from these and from imported ores was 2,467,500 tons and its value £7,490,000. Prussia produces nearly the whole of the zinc of Germany, and Silesia three-fourths of that of Prussia; in 1882 the amount was 113,300 tons, valued at £1,795,000. The produce of lead in the same year was 88,300 tons, valued at £1,200,000 and found mainly in the valley of the Lahn near Coblentz, in Silesia, in the Harz, and in Hesse-Nassau. Copper was produced to the extent of 15,400 tons and the value of £1,025,000; five-sevenths were raised in Saxony, which includes some of the productive mines of the Harz. Silver and gold are extracted from the copper ore of Mansfeld in Saxony, and silver also from the lead ores of Silesia, Aix-la-Chapelle, Wiesbaden, and Arnsberg. In 1882 the value of the silver smelted out was £1.214,700, of gold only £9050. Salt also ranks high in importance among the mineral treasures of Prussia. In 1882 die total yield included 252,300 tons of boiled salt, 210,100 tons of rock-salt, and 85,400 tons of other salts, with a total value of £719,600. Brine springs occur throughout almost the whole kingdom, but by far the most productive provinces are Saxony and Hanover. Rock-salt is mined at Stassfurt in the province of Saxony, and in Posen. Chloride of potash and potassium salts are also extensively found in Saxony. The other mineral products include manganese, nickel, pyrites, cobalt, quicksilver, alum, gypsum, and sulphuric acid. Good building-stone is common throughout the country, marble is found in Silesia, and rooting slates in the Devonian formations of the Rhine and the Harz. Chalk pits and cliffs abound in the Island of Rügen. The amber of the Baltic coast is picked up on the beach after a storm, and is also found by digging and dredging. About 3000 persons are employed in the search, and in favourable seasons 3000 to 4000 cwts. are collected. Mineral springs are numerous among the mountains of Silesia, the Taunus, and the Eifel. The most generally known are those in the district of Wiesbaden, including Wiesbaden itself, Ems, Homburg, Schlangenbad, and Schwalbach.

Industries.—Prussia now takes a high place among the manufacturing states of Europe, though the foundation of its industrial importance cannot be dated farther back than the reign of the Great Elector (1640.88). As a general rule, apart from a few of the larger towns, the busiest manufacturing centres are found on the lower slopes and outskirts of the mountainous districts, such as the Rhenish valleys. Lusatia, and the vicinity of the Silesian coal-fields. About 35 per cent. of the population are supported by industrial pursuits. The district of Düsseldorf is the busiest in Prussia, and Berlin and Elberfeld-Barmen are among the chief hives of industry on the Continent. The principal manufactured products are woolen, linen, cotton, silk. and iron goods.

The metallic industries, as might be expected, flourish chiefly in the neighbourhood of the coal-fields and have reached their highest development in the district of the Ruhr. Steel is made most extensively in the districts of Arnsberg (Westphalia) and Düsseldorf; at Essen in the latter is Krupp’s celebrated cannon-foundry, with 20,000 workmen. Small iron and steel goods also come chiefly from the Westphalian and Rhenish districts; and the cutlery of Solingen, the tools of Remscheid, and the needles of Aix-la-Chapelle enjoy a widespread reputation. Berlin is the chief seat of the manufacture of machinery and locomotives. Small arms are made at Suhl, Spandau, Potsdam, and Sömmerda (Erfurt). Articles in bronze, brass, and electro-plate are largely made at and exported from Berlin, Frankfort-on-the-Main, Iserlohn, and Altena, while gold and silver goods are produced chiefly at Berlin and Hanau.

The textile industries of Prussia are also important, employing 400,000 workpeople, though they do not rank in extent with those of Great Britain. Until recently the chief textile manufacture was linen, which was largely made by hand in Silesia, Westphalia, and Saxony. The domestic mode of manufacture has now to a great extent disappeared, but Westphalian and Silesian linens still maintain their reputation. The manufacture covers the home demand, but about one-third of the necessary flax and hemp has to be imported. Jute is made at Bielefeld and Bonn. The manufacture of cotton has of late made great progress, though it is not so important in Prussia as in the kingdom of Saxony and in Alsace. The chief centres of this branch of industry are Düsseldorf, Münster, Elberfeld-Barmen, Hanover, Breslau, and Liegnitz. About 65 per cent. of the woollen yarn of Germany is made in Prussia, and woollen cloth of good quality is produced in the province of the Rhine, Silesia, Brandenburg, and Saxony. The spinning and weaving of worsted and woollen cloth are also still carried on throughout the country as domestic industries, but not to such an extent as formerly. Wool and worsted yarn are imported from England and other countries, but the cloth manufactured is much in excess of the home demand and forms an important article of export. Carpets are made at Berlin and at Düren in the Rhine province. Silk is manufactured at Crefeld, Elberfeld-Barmen, and other places near the Rhine. Though hardly reaching the high standard of that of Lyons, Rhenish silk commands a good price, and is exported to England, America, Russia, and Austria.

Tobacco and cigars are largely manufactured at Berlin and numerous other towns, and to some extent wherever the tobacco plant is cultivated. The annual consumption of tobacco amounts to about 4 lb per head of population, or nearly thrice as much as in Great Britain; but the revenue derived from the tobacco excise, owing to the small impost on home-made tobacco, is not more than 6d. a head as compared with 5s. per head in England. A comparatively modern but very important branch of industry is the manufacture of sugar from the common beet. The great centre of this industry is the province of Saxony, which in 1882-83 contained nearly half the 280 sugar-works in the kingdom, the remainder being chiefly in Hanover and Silesia. Upwards of 600,000 tons of raw sugar and 160,000 tons of molasses are produced annually. [15-1] About 320 million gallons of beer are brewed in Prussia per annum and about 35 million more are imported from Bavaria and Bohemia ; the consumption per head, amounting from 65 to 70 quarts, is about half of the English and one-fourth of the Bavarian rate. Wine-making, as already mentioned, is an important industry on the Rhine, and large quantities of spirits are distilled from potatoes in Brandenburg and the eastern provinces. The remaining industrial products of Prussia include chemicals, chiefly made in Saxony, Silesia, and the Rhenish province ; dyes, at Elberfeld-Barmen and Crefeld ; paper, in the districts of Aix-la-Chapelle, Arnsberg, and Liegnitz ; glass ("Bohemian glass"), in Silesia ; pianos, at Berlin, Breslau, Cassel, and Erfurt; and scientific instruments, at Berlin and Halle. The artistic furniture and porcelain of Berlin are characteristic specialities. In nearly every department there has been in recent years a steady advance both in quantity and quality.

Trade.—The commerce of Prussia is greatly facilitated by its central position, which enables it to carry on a very extensive transit trade; but, as the returns are not separated from those of the other members of the Zollverein, it is impossible to do more than guess at its annual value. According to the Almanach de Gotha, the total value of the exports and imports of the German Customs Union in 1883 amounted to upwards of £330,000,000 ; and, to judge from the customs receipts, about three-fifths of tills amount must be credited to Prussia. The chief imports are tea, coffee, sugar, and oilier colonial products, grain, wine, textile fabrics, fruit, petroleum, and manufactured articles of various kinds. Among the principal ex-ports are grain, cattle, wine, potatoes, woollen and linen goods, hides and leather, chemicals, iron and steel wares, lead, and zinc. The export of grain to France and England has fallen off greatly of recent years, owing to the increasing demand at home. The inland trade is fostered by numerous fairs, the most important of which take place at the two Frankforts, Breslau, and Magdeburg. The money-markets of Berlin and Frankfort-on-the-Main are among the most influential in Europe.

In 1883 Prussia possessed upwards of three-fifths of the merchant ships of Germany, including 2586 sailing vessels and 229 steamers, manned by 17,315 men. Their burden, however, amounting to 449,391 tons, was little more than one-third of the whole, and was exceeded by that of Bremen and Hamburg taken together. None of the Prussian seaports vies with either Hamburg or Bremen; the largest is Stettin, which possesses a fleet of 40 steamers and 280 sailing ships. In 1881 the Prussian harbours were entered by 38,054 vessels of 3,483,545 tons burden, and cleared by 38,005 of 3,518,098 tons burden. The best seamen are furnished by the fishing population of Friesland or Frisia.

Communication.—With most internal means of communication Prussia is well provided. Almost none of its excellent highroads existed in the time of Frederick the Great, and many of them date from the Napoleonic era. The first Prussian railway was laid in 1838, but the railway system did not receive its full development until the events of 1866 removed the obstacles placed in the way by Hanover. Most of the lines were easy of construction, and absorbed comparatively little capital. The great majority were laid by private companies, and the Government confined itself to establishing lines in districts not likely to attract private capital. In 1879, however, a measure was passed authorizing the acquisition by the state of the private railways, and in 1884 nine-tenths of the 13,800 miles of railway in Prussia were in the hands of Government. The proportion of railway mileage in Prussia (5 miles per 10,000 inhabitants) is nearly as high as in Great Britain, but the traffic is much less. Thus in 1880-81 the Prussian railways carried only 124 million passengers, while the British lines conveyed 622 millions. The expenses swallowed up 56 per cent. of the gross receipts, or 4 per cent. more than those of England in the same year ; but in the matter of railway accidents the comparison is more favourable to the Prussian railways, on which only 235 persons lost their lives as compared with about four times as many in Great Britain. The passenger traffic has not increased in proportion to the extension of the railway system and the growth of population, but the goods traffic has steadily advanced. The canal system of Prussia is little beyond its infancy, the total length of all the canals in the kingdom being only 1200 miles, a very small number as compared with either England or France. Among the most important are those uniting the Pregel with the Memel, and the Vistula with the Oder (via the Netze), and those bringing the Spree and Havel into communication with the Elbe on the one side and the Oder on the other. Canals uniting the Ems and the Rhine, the Ems and the Weser, and the Weser and the Elbe are still desiderata. On the other hand, Prussia has a large supply of navigable rivers.

Population.—The last census of Prussia was taken in 1880, and the accompanying table summarizes the principal results then ascertained. The total population amounts to about 60 per cent. of that of the German empire.


The following table shows the growth of the population since the death of Frederick, the first king of Prussia. The first trustworthy census of Prussia was taken in 1816; the earlier figures are only more or less reasonable estimates.


Between 1816 and 1831 the increase of the population of Prussia was about 30 per cent, and between 1831 and 1864 it was 46 per cent. Some districts have more than doubled their population since 1816, but the annual increment since 1866 has not exceeded 1 per cent., a fact due to the less rapid multiplication in the new provinces and the losses in the Franco-German War. The rate of increase in the latter part of the period 1867-84 has, however, been considerably more rapid than in the first half. The increase is entirely due to the surplus of births over deaths, as emigration is very much in excess of immigration. With the exception of Saxony and some of the smallest states, Prussia is increasing more rapidly in population than any other member of the German empire. Its rate of increase is fully twice that of France and about the same as that of the United Kingdom. The highest rate of increase in 1875-80 took place in Berlin (2·92 per annum) and Westphalia (1·39), the lowest in Hohenzollern (0·35) and East Prussia (0·82). The birth-rate, which for the entire country is 40 per 1000, is highest in West Prussia, Posen, and Westphalia and lowest in Schleswig-Holstein, Hanover, and Hesse-Nassau. The death-rate for the whole monarchy is about 27 per 1000, considerably higher than that of Great Britain, which is about 20 per 1000. Pomerania is remarkable for its low death-rate, West Prussia and Silesia for a high one. Both the birth-rate and the death-rate show a tendency to diminish. Of the births in 1882 8·11 per cent. were illegitimate, the proportion varying from 2·92 per cent. in Westphalia to 11 per cent. in Pomerania, and nearly 15 per cent. in Berlin. Between 1872 and 1880 the number of marriages diminished with almost unvarying steadiness ; since 1880 it has .risen again and now amounts to about 8 per 1000 inhabitants. An interesting feature is the large proportion of mixed confessional marriages, amounting as a rule to about 7 per cent. of the whole. Between 1871 and 1881 the annual emigration from Prussia amounted to 1·8 per 1000 inhabitants ; in 1882 no fewer than 129,894, and in 1883 104,167 emigrants left the country by the German ports and Antwerp. The highest proportion of emigrants comes from Pomerania (5·6) and Posen (4·3), the lowest from Silesia, the Rhineland, and Saxony.

A study of the figures in the table given above will show that as a rule the density of population increases from north to south and from east to west. As might be expected, the thickest population is found in the mining and manufacturing district of the Rhine, which is closely followed by the coal-regions of Silesia and parts of Saxony and Westphalia. The proportion for the whole kingdom is about 200 per square mile, but in the district of Düsseldorf this figure rises to 750 and in the moorlands of Hanover it sinks to less than 50. According to the census of 1880, 57·4 per cent. of the population is rural, and 42·6 per cent. urban, i.e., lives in communities of more than 2000 inhabitants. The relative proportions vary greatly in the different provinces, as much as 62 per cent. of the population living in towns in the Rhineland, and as little as 23 or 24 per cent. in East Prussia and Posen. About 17 per cent. of the population is absorbed by towns each with 20,000 inhabitants and upwards, while in Great Britain half the population is massed in the large towns and from 65 to 70 per cent. is urban. In Prussia also there is observable a strong movement towards concentration in towns, the annual rate of increase in the urban population being six times as great as that in the rural communities. In 1880 Prussia contained 24 towns each with upwards of 50,000 inhabit-ants, and 7 with upwards of 100,000 inhabitants, the corresponding numbers in Great Britain being 59 and 26. The following are the towns with upwards of 100,000 inhabitants each :—


Elberfeld and Barmen practically form one town with a population of 189,479 ; and Magdeburg, Düsseldorf, Stettin, and Altona are all above 90,000. The annual rate of suicides in Prussia is 18 to 20 per 100,000 inhabitants, a proportion seldom exceeded among European states. Divided according to nationalities, the present (1885) population of Prussia consists roughly of 24,000,000 Germans, 2,800,000 Poles in the eastern provinces, 150,000 Lithuanians in the north-east, 180,000 Danes in Schleswig-Holstein, 90,000 Wends in Brandenburg and Silesia, 60,000 Czechs in Silesia, and 12,000 Walloons near the Belgian frontier. In the rural districts of Posen and in parts of Silesia the Poles form the predominant element of the population.

In 1882 a census of occupations was taken in the German empire, the main results of which, so far as they relate to Prussia, are summarized in the following table. The figures include the wives, families, and other dependants of those actually engaged in the several occupations. The actual workers are about 11 millions in number and their dependants 16 millions.


Religious Statistics.—According to the census returns of 1880 (see table, p. 16), 64·64 per cent. of the population of Prussia were Protestants, 34 per cent. Roman Catholics, and 1·33 Jews. A glance at a confessional map of Prussia shows that the centre of the kingdom is solidly Protestant, the proportion of Roman Catholics increasing as the eye travels east or west and reaching its maximum on the Rhine and in the Slavonic provinces. East Prussia, however, with the exception of Ermland, is Protestant. The Roman Catholics out-number the Protestants in the provinces of the Rhine (3 to 1), Posen, Silesia, and West Prussia. All religious bodies are granted freedom of worship, and civil rights are not conditional upon religious confession.

The Evangelical or Protestant State Church of Prussia consists as it now stands of a union of the Lutherans and Calvinists, effected under royal pressure in 1817. According to the king this was not a fusion of two faiths but an external union for mutual admission to the Eucharist and for the convenience of using the same liturgy, prepared under the royal superintendence. Those who were unable from conscientious scruples to join the union became Separatist or Old Lutherans and Old Calvinists, but their numbers were and are insignificant. The king is "summus episcopus," or supreme pontiff of the church, and is represented in the exercise of his ecclesiastical functions by the minister of public worship and instruction. The highest authority for the ordinary management of the church is the "Oberkirchenrath," or supreme church council at Berlin, which acts through provincial consistories and superintendents appointed by the crown. Recent legislation has made an effort to encourage self-government and give a congregational character to the church by the granting of a presbyterial constitution, with parish, diocesan, provincial, and general synods. The clergy, of whom there were 9146 in 1880, are appointed by the crown, by the consistories, by private or municipal patronage, or by congregational election.

The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church in Prussia consists of two archbishops (Cologne, Gnesen-Posen) and ten bishops. The prince-bishop of Breslau and the bishops of Ermland, Hildesheim, and Osnabrück are directly under the pope, and the bishoprics of Fulda and Limburg are in the archiepiscopal diocese of Freiburg in Baden. The higher ecclesiastics receive payment from the state, and the annual appropriation appearing in the budget for the Roman Catholic Church is as high as that made for the State Church. All the Roman Catholic religious orders in Prussia have been suppressed except those mainly or wholly occupied with attendance on the sick.

The relations of the state with the dissenting Christian sects, such as the Baptists, Mennonites, and Moravian Brethren, are practically confined to granting them charters of incorporation which ensure them toleration. The Mennonites were formerly allowed to pay an extra tax in lieu of military service, which is inconsistent with their belief, but this privilege has been withdrawn. The Old Catholics number about 30,000, but do not seem to be increasing.

The Jews belong mainly to the urban population and form 20 to 30 per cent. of the inhabitants in some of the towns in the Slavonic provinces. They are especially prominent in commerce, finance, and on the stage, and also exercise great influence on the press. Perhaps the actual majority of newspaper editors and proprietors are of Jewish blood. The wave of social persecution to which they were subjected from 1876 onwards, especially in Berlin and Pomerania, has, to some extent at least, subsided.

Education.—In Prussia education is looked upon as the province of the state, and the general level attained is very high. All schools, public and private, are under state supervision, and no one is allowed to exercise the profession of teacher until he has given satisfactory proof of his qualifications. At the head of the administration stands the minister of public instruction, to whom the universities are directly subordinate. The secondary schools are supervised by provincial "Schulcollegia," or school-boards, appointed by Government, while the management of the elementary and private schools falls within the jurisdiction of the ordinary "Regierungen," or department officials. This they carry out through qualified school-inspectors, frequently chosen from among the clergy. All children must attend school from their sixth to their fourteenth year.

The expenses of the primary schools (Volksschulen) are borne by the communes (Gemeinden, see infra), aided when necessary by subsidies from the state. The subjects of instruction are theology, reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic, the elements of geometry, history, geography, and natural science, singing, drawing, sewing, and gymnastics. The fees are extremely small, amounting in the rural districts to about 1d. per week, and in Berlin and some other towns they have been entirely done away with. In 1882 Prussia contained 33,040 primary schools with 59,917 teachers and 4,339,729 pupils. This shows an average of 159 children attending school out of every 1000 inhabitants, the proportion varying from 120 to 130 in the north-eastern provinces to 175 to 180 in-Westphalia and Rhenish Prussia. The number of illiterate recruits among those called upon each year to serve in the army affords a good test of the universality of elementary education. In 1882-83 the proportion of "Analphabaeti," or men unable to read or write, among the recruits levied was only 2 per cent., the rate varying from 9·75 per cent. in Posen to 0·03 in Schleswig-Holstein, where there was only one illiterate recruit among 3662. The teachers for the elementary schools are trained in normal seminaries or colleges established and supervised by the state, and much has been done of late years to improve their position. In most of the larger towns the elementary schools are supplemented by middle schools (Bürgerschulen, Stadtschulen), which carry on the pupil to a somewhat more advanced stage, and are partly intended to draw off the unsuitable elements from the higher schools.

The secondary schools of Prussia may be roughly divided into classical and modern, though there are comparatively few in which Latin is quite omitted. The classical schools proper consist of Gymnasia and Progymnasia, the latter being simply gymnasia wanting the higher classes. In these boys are prepared for the universities and the learned professions, and the full course lasts for nine years. In the modern schools, which are divided in the same way into Realgymnasia and Realprogymnasia, and also have a nine years' course, Latin is taught, but not Greek, and greater stress is laid upon modern languages, mathematics, and natural science. The three lower classes are practically identical with those of the gymnasia, while in the upper classes the thoroughness of training is assimilated as closely as possible to that of the classical schools, though the subjects are somewhat altered. Ranking with the realgymnasia are the Oberrealschulen, which differ only in the fact that Latin is entirely omitted, and the time thus gained devoted to modern languages. The Höhere (or upper) Bürgerschulen, in which the course is six years, rank with the middle schools above mentioned, and are intended mainly for those boys who wish to enter business life immediately on leaving school. All these secondary schools possess the right of granting certificates entitling the holders, who must have attained a certain standing in the school, to serve in the army as one-year volunteers. The gymnasial "certificate of ripeness" (Maturitätszeugniss), indicating that the holder has passed satisfactorily through the highest class, enables a student to enroll himself in any faculty at the university, but that of the realgymnasium qualifies only for the general or "philosophical" faculty, and does not open the way to medicine, the church, or the bar. Considerable efforts are, however, now being made to have the realgymnasium certificate recognized as a sufficient qualification for the study of medicine at least. At any of these schools a thoroughly good education may be obtained at a cost seldom exceeding, in the highest classes, £5 per annum. The teachers are men of scholarship and ability, who have passed stringent Government examinations and been submitted to a year of probation. The great majority of the secondary schools have been established and endowed by municipal corporations. In 1881 Prussia contained 251 gymnasia, 64 progymnasia, 88 realgymnasia, 15 oberrealschulen, 27 realschulen, 47 höhere bürgerschulen, and 276 Höhere T_chterschulen, or higher schools for girls. Besides these there are, of course, numerous commercial, technical, industrial, and other special schools.

Prussia possesses ten of the twenty German universities, attended by 12,800 students, or at the rate of one student for 2125 inhabitants. The largest Prussian university is that of Berlin, attended by more than 4000 students, while Breslau, Bonn, Göttingen, and Halle have each upwards of 1000. The oldest is the university of Greifswald, founded in 1456. Like the schools the universities are state institutions, and the professors are appointed and paid by Government, which also makes liberal annual grants for apparatus and equipment. The full obligatory course of study extends over three, and in the case of medicine four years. It is, however, not unusual for non-medical students also to spend four years at the university, and there is an agitation to make this compulsory. Students qualifying for a Prussian Government appointment are required to spend at least three terms or half-years (Semester) at a Prussian university.

Ranking with the universities are the large polytechnic colleges at Berlin, Hanover, and Aix-la-Chapelle, the mining academies of Berlin and Klausthal, and the academies of forestry at Eberswalde and Münden. Departments for the study of agriculture are attached to many of the universities. Music is taught at several conservatoria, the best known of which are at Berlin and Frankfort-on-the-Main.

The science and art of Prussia find their most conspicuous external expression in the academies of science and art at Berlin, both founded by Frederick I. ; and each town of any size throughout the kingdom has its antiquarian, artistic, and scientific societies. Recognized schools of painting exist at Berlin and Düsseldorf, and both these towns, as well as Cassel, contain excellent picture galleries. The scientific and archaeological collections of Berlin are also of great importance. Besides the university collections, there are numerous large public libraries, the chief of which is the royal library at Berlin (1,000,000 vols.).

Constitution.—The present form of the government of Prussia, consisting of an hereditary monarchy with two houses of parliament, is based upon a fundamental law promulgated in 1850, and subsequently somewhat modified by various enactments. The constitution affirms the legal equality of all citizens in the eye of the law, provides for universal military service, and guarantees the personal liberty of the subject, the security of property, immunity from domiciliary visits, the inviolability of letters, toleration of religious sects, freedom of the press, the right of association and public meetings, and liberty of migration.

The monarchy is hereditary in the male line of the house of Hohenzollern, and follows the custom of primogeniture. The king alone exercises the executive power, but shares the legislative power with his parliament He appoints and discharges the ministers and other officials of the crown, summons and dissolves parliament, possesses the right of pardon and mitigation of punishment, declares war and concludes peace, and grants orders and titles. He is held to be irresponsible for his public actions, and his decrees require the countersign of a minister, whose responsibility, however, is not very clearly denned. The national tradition and feeling lend the crown considerable power not formulated in the constitution, and the king is permitted to bring his personal influence to bear upon parliament in a way quite at variance with the English conception of a constitutional monarch. The annual civil list of the king of Prussia amounts to £600,000.

The legislative assembly consists of two chambers, which are convoked annually it the same time but meet separately. The right of proposing new measures belongs equally to the king and each of the chambers, but the consent of all three estates is necessary before a measure can pass into law. The chambers have control of the finances and possess the right of voting or refusing taxes. Financial questions are first discussed in the lower house, and the upper house can accept or reject the annual budget only en bloc. All measures are passed by an absolute majority, but those affecting the constitution must be submitted to a second vote after an interval of at least twenty-one days. Members may not be called to account for their parliamentary utterances except by the chamber in which they sit. No one may at the same time be a member of both chambers. The ministers of the crown have access to both chambers and may speak at any time, but they do not vote unless they are actually members. The general scheme of government, though constitutional, is not exactly "parliamentary" in the English sense of the word, as the ministers are independent of party and need not necessarily represent the opinions of the parliamentary majority. The Herrenhaus, or house of peers, contains two classes of members, the hereditary and non-hereditary. The former consists of the adult princes of the house of Hohenzollern, the mediatized princes and counts of the old imperial nobility, and the heads of the great territorial nobility. The non-hereditary members comprise life peers chosen by the king from the ranks of the rich landowners, manufacturers, and men of general eminence, and representatives "presented" for the king’s approval by the landowners of the nine old provinces, by the larger towns, and by the universities. The Abgeordnetenhaus, or chamber of deputies, consists of 433 members, elected for periods of three years by indirect suffrage, exercised by all male citizens who have readied the age of twenty-five and have not forfeited their communal rights. The original electors are arranged in three classes, according to the rate of taxes paid by them, in such a way that the gross amount of taxation is equal in each class. The country is accordingly divided into electoral districts, with the electors grouped in three categories, each of which selects a Wahlmann or electoral proxy, who exercises the direct suffrage. Members of the lower house must be thirty years old and in full possession of their civic rights. They receive a daily allowance (Diäten) during the sitting of the house.

The king exercises his executive functions through an irresponsible Staatsrath, or privy council, revived in 1884 after thirty years of inactivity, and by a nominally responsible cabinet or council of ministers (Stoats-Ministerium). The latter consists at present of the minister-president and of the ministers of foreign affairs, war, justice, finance, the interior, public worship and instruction, industry and commerce, public works, agriculture, domains, and forests. Ministers conduct the affairs of their special departments independently, but meet in council for the discussion of general questions. They represent the executive in the houses of parliament and introduce the measures proposed by the crown, but do not need to belong to either chamber. The affairs of the royal household and privy purse are entrusted to a special minister, who is not a member of the cabinet.

The Prussian governmental system is somewhat complicated by its relation to that of the empire. The king of Prussia is at the same time German emperor, and his prime minister is also the imperial chancellor. The ministries of war and foreign affairs practically coincide with those of the empire, and the customs-dues and the postal and telegraph service have also been transferred to the imperial Government. Prussia has only seventeen votes in the federal council, or less than a third of the total number, but its influence is practically assured by the fact that the small northern states almost invariably vote with it. To the reichstag Prussia sends more than half the members. The double parliamentary system works in some respects inconveniently, as the reichstag and Prussian landtag are often in session at the same time and many persons are members of both. Where imperial and Prussian legislation come into conflict the latter must give way.

For administrative purposes Prussia is divided into Provinzen or provinces, Regierungsbezirke or governmental departments, Kreise or circles, and Gemeinden or communes. The city of Berlin and the district of Hohenzollern are not included in any province, and the larger towns usually form at once a commune and a circles (Stadtkreis). Recent legislation has aimed at the encouragement of local government and the decentralization of administrative authority by admitting lay or popularly elected members to a share in the administration alongside of the Government officials. Certain branches of administration, such as the care of roads and the poor, have been handed over entirely to local authorities, while a share is allowed them in all. As a general result it may be stated that the Prussian administrative system intervenes between the strongly centralized government of France and the liberty of local government enjoyed in England. In the province the Government is represented by the Oberpräsident, whose jurisdiction extends over all matters affecting more than one department. He is assisted by a council (Provinzialrath), consisting, besides himself as chairman, of one member appointed by Government and five members elected by the provincial committee (Provinzialausschuss). The latter forms the permanent executive of the provincial diet (Provinzial-Landtag), which consists of deputies elected by the kreise or circles, and forms the chief provincial organ of local government. The regierungsbezirk is solely a Government division and is only indirectly represented in the scheme of local administration. The Government authorities are the Regierungs-Präsident, who is at the head of the general internal administration of the department, and the Regierung, or Government board, which supervises ecclesiastical and educational affairs and exercises the function of the state in regard to the direct taxes and the domains and forests. The departmental president is also assisted by a Bezirksrath or district council, consisting of one official member and four others selected from inhabitants of the department by the provincial committee. The governmental official in the kreis (county, circle) is the Landrath, an office which existed in the Mark of Brandenburg as early as the 16th century. He is aided by the Kreissausschuss, or executive committee of the Kreistag (the diet of the circle), the members of which are elected by the rural and urban communes. The kreis is the smallest state division; the communes, divided into urban and rural, are left almost entirely to local government, though the chief officials must obtain the sanction of the central authority. In the rural communes the head magistrate, called a Schuize or Dorfrichter, is elected for six years and is assisted by assessors called Schöffen. The regulations for the government of towns still rest in great measure on the liberal reforms effected by Stein at the beginning of the century. The chief power rests in the hands of the Stadtrath, which consists of Stadtverordneten, or town deputies elected by the citizens for six years. The practical executive is entrusted to the magistracy (Magistrat), which usually consists of a burgomaster, a deputy burgomaster (both paid officials), several unpaid members, and, where necessary, a few other paid members. The unpaid members hold office for six years; the paid members are elected for twelve years, and their election requires ratification from the state. The administrative system above de-scribed applies as yet in its full extent to about three-fourths of the provinces only, but is to be extended to the others in due course. Though in some respects rather cumbrous in its machinery, the system is on the whole found to work well and with economy.

In the seven eastern provinces, Westphalia, and part of the Rhenish province the common law of Prussia (Landrecht), codified in 1794, is in force, while the common law of the German empire, formed by an amalgamation of Roman, canon, and German law, prevails in the three new provinces and part of. Pomerania. The Code Napoleon, however, still exists in the greater part of the Rhine district, and the commercial law has been consolidated in the German commercial code of 1861. A new penal code, promulgated in 1850, did away with the old patrimonial or seigniorial jurisdiction, and the administration of justice is now wholly in the hands of Government. The courts of lowest instance are the Amtsgerichte, in which sits a single judge, accompanied in penal cases. by two Schöllen or lay assessors (a kind of jurymen, who vote with the judge). Cases of more importance are decided by the Landgerichte or county courts, in which the usual number of judges is three, while in important criminal cases a jury of twelve persons is generally empanelled. From the landgerichte appeals may be made to the Oberlandesgerichte or provincial courts. The oberlandesgericht at Berlin is named the Kammergericht and forms the final instance for summary convictions in Prussia, while all other cases may be taken to the supreme imperial court at Leipsic. The judges (Richter) are appointed and paid by the state, and hold office for life. After finishing his university career the student of law who wishes to become a judge or to practise as qualified counsel (Rechtsanwalt, barrister and solicitor in one) passes a Government examination and becomes a Referendarius. He then spends at least four years in the practical work of his profession, after which lie passes a second examination, and, if he has chosen the bench instead of the bar, becomes an Assessor and is eligible for the position of judge. A lawyer who has passed the necessary examinations may at any time quit the bar for the bench, and a judge is also at liberty to resign his position and enter upon private practice. In all criminal cases the prosecution is undertaken by Government, which acts through Staatsanwälte, or directors of prosecutions, in the pay of the state.

Finances. —The finances of the Prussian Government are well managed, and a deficit is now a rare occurrence. The expenditure has been considerably relieved by the transference of the cost of the army and navy to the imperial treasury, while on the other hand the customs-dues and several excise duties have been relinquished to the empire and an annual "matricular" contribution paid towards its expenses. The budget is voted annually by the abgeordnetenhaus; the following table is an abstract of that for 1884-85:—


Perhaps the only item requiring explanation in the above summary is the general financial administration under the head of revenue; this includes advances from the surplus in the treasury, Prussia’s proportion of the profits of the imperial customs and excises, repayments, interest, and other miscellaneous sources of revenue. The extraordinary expenses included upwards of £450,000 for railways and £750,000 for public works. The total expenditure is rather more than £2 per head of population, while in the United Kingdom it is about £2, 10s. Between 1821 and 1844 the rate in Prussia was 11s. 6d. per head, and even in 1858 it was only 21s. 8d. The incidence of direct taxation in Prussia is also less than in Great Britain, the respective figures being 5s. 3d. and 7s. per head. The principal direct imposts are the income-tax, which brings in 40 per cent. of the whole, the land-tax producing 37 per cent., and the house-tax producing 19 per cent. The proceeds of the income-tax amount to about 1s. 2d. per head, as compared with 6s. per head in Great Britain (in 1881). The comparative insignificance of the sum raised by indirect taxation is mainly due to the above-noted fact that the customs-dues and the most important excise duties have been made over to the imperial exchequer. In the preliminary estimates for 1885-86 the receipts and expenditure are balanced at £62,886,250.

Local taxation in Prussia is often very high. The state income-tax is limited to 3 per cent. of the assessed income, but the communes and towns are allowed to make an arbitrary addition for local purposes, sometimes amounting to twice or thrice the sum paid to the state. This is chiefly owing to the fact that the state reserved for itself all taxation on real property, while imposing on the communes the principal share in maintaining the expensive system of public schools. Incomes below £45 (900 marks) are not now taxed, but this exemption is of very recent origin. A few facts from the statistics of taxation and allied subjects may be of interest as affording some slight index to Prussia’s growth in prosperity. Between 1864 and 1878 the entire capital subject to income-tax increased from 24 to 48 marks per head of population, while the proportionate number of those liable to the tax had increased by about 75 per cent. It has also been computed that the average income per head increased between 1872 and 1881 by 15 marks, equivalent to a rise of 5 per cent.; that of Great Britain increased in the same period by 88s., or 15 per cent. Of all the payers of income-tax in 1872-81 only 0·10 per cent. had incomes of or above £1000, while 43 per cent. had not more than £25 and 52 per cent. between £25 and £100. Between 1867 and 1880 the proceeds of the house-tax increased by over 3 00 per cent. It now averages 1s. per head, varying from 6d. in country districts up to 5s. or 5s. 6d. in Berlin, Frankfort-on-the-Main, and Cologne. In 1875 the number of depositors in savings banks was 86 per 1000 inhabitants, and by 1880 the number had risen to 107. The sum deposited amounted to £79,643,400, equivalent to 58s. per head of population. At the same date Austria alone of European powers had a higher proportion (67s.), while in Great Britain the sum was 44s. and in France 27s.

The public debt of Prussia in 1884 amounted to 3,345,097,438 marks, or £167,254,872. This is equivalent to about £6 per head of population, as compared with three and a half times as much in England. The annual charge for interest on the debt is 5s. 8d. per head in Prussia and 16s. 2d. in England. Between the end of the struggle with Napoleon and 1848 the debt was considerably reduced ; since 1848 it has steadily increased. . It is, however, admirably secured, and a great part. of it was incurred in the construction and acquisition of railways, the clear income from which covers the annual charges on the entire debt. The various branches of the debt are being gradually united in a consolidated fund, bearing interest at the rate of 4 per cent.

Army and Navy.—The Prussian army now forms about 75 per cent. of that of the German empire, of which it also furnished the model. (See GERMANY.) The first attempt at the foundation of a Prussian navy was made by the Great Elector, who established a small fleet of eight or ten vessels. This, however, was completely neglected by his successors, and the present marine establishment is of quite recent origin. The present imperial navy is simply the Prussian navy under a different name. (See GERMANY.)

Bibliography.—The statistical facts in the foregoing article have been mainly drawn from the Jahrbuch für die amtliche Statistik des preussisdien Staats, the Statistisches Jahrbuch fur das deutsche Reich, and other publications of the statistical offices of Prussia and Germany. Good general accounts of the natural, social, and political features of the country are given in Eiselen’s Der preussische Staat (Berlin, 1862) and in Daniel’s Handbuch der Geographie (5th ed., 1881 sq.). The Prussian constitution and administrative system are concisely described in the Handbuch der Verfussung und Verwaltung in Preussen, by Graf Huè de Grais, and are treated at length in Von Rönne’s Staatsrecht der preussischen Monarchie (4th ed., 1881-84). For English readers the most interesting introduction to Prussian history is perhaps still to be found in the first part of Carlyle’s Frederick the Great, the not invariably unprejudiced views of which may be corrected by Professor Tuttle’s History of Prussia to the Accession of Frederick the Great (Boston, 1884). The latter admirable little work is, indeed, almost) indispensable to every English student of Prussian constitutional history, Professor Seeley’s Life of Stein (London, 1879) contains an excellent account of Prussia in the Napoleonic period, especially with regard to the important internal reforms carried out at the beginning of the present century. Among the numerous German histories of Prussia two of the best are Droysen’s Geschichte der preussischen Politik and Ranke’s Zwölf Bücher preussischer Geschichte; the former is authoritative from the writer’s copious use of the Prussian archives, but the latter is less diffuse and more interesting. Other standard works are those of Stenzel, Pauli, Riedel, and Lancizolle, while among shorter histories may be mentioned the manual of P. Voigt. Fix’s Territorial-Geschichte des brandenburgisch-preussischen Staates, with ten historical maps, is a convenient sketch of the territorial growth of Prussia. The period since the death of Frederick the Great is treated in Forster’s Neuere und neueste preussische Geschichte and in Reimann’s Neuere Geschichte des preussischen Staats (1882 sq.). The history of the present century is perhaps most fully given in Treitschke’s Deutsche Geschichte im neunzehnten Jahrhundert (1879 sq.). Until recently the standard work on the history of Prussia proper was that of Johannes Voigt, but this is now being superseded by Lohmeyer’s Geschichte von Ost u. West Preussen (1881 sq.). The latter forms one of an admirable series of provincial histories in course of publication by Perthes of Gotha. The development of the Prussian bureaucracy is traced in Isaacsohn’s Geschichte des preussischen Beamtenthums (1870-84). Several points are most satisfactorily handled in the numerous monographs on special periods, the lives of kings and statesmen, and the like. (J. F. M.)

PRUSSIA, in the original and narrower sense of the word, is a district in the north-eastern corner of the modern kingdom of the same name, stretching along the Baltic coast for about 220 miles, and occupying an area of upwards of 24,000 square miles. The eastern part of this territory formed the duchy of Prussia, which was acquired by the electors of Brandenburg in 1618, and furnished them with their regal title. The western part, which had been severed from the eastern half and assigned to Poland in 1466, was not annexed to Prussia until the partition of Poland in 1772, while the towns of Dantsic and Thorn remained Polish down to 1793. In spite of the contrast between the political and social conditions of the two districts, arising from the difference of their history, they were united in 1824 to form a single province. But, as might have been expected, the union did not work well, and it was dissolved in 1878, giving place to the modern provinces of East and West Prussia. The early history of the whole district is related under the kingdom of PRUSSIA (above) and TEUTONIC ORDER, while the former article also gives (p. 14) some statistics as to the produce of the two provinces. [19-1]

EAST PRUSSIA (Ostpreussen), the larger of the two provinces, has an area of 14,280 square miles, and is bounded by the Baltic Sea, Russia, and West Prussia. It shares in the general characteristics of the great north German plain, but, though low, its surface is by no means absolutely flat, as the southern half is traversed by a low-ridge or plateau (comp. GERMANY), which attains a height of 1025 feet at a point near the western boundary of the province. This plateau, here named the Prussian Seenplatte, is thickly sprinkled with small lakes, among which is the Spirding See, 46 square miles in extent and the largest inland lake in the Prussian monarchy. The coast is lined with low dunes or sandhills, in front of which lie the large littoral lakes or lagoons named the Frische Hatt and the Kurische Haff. (See GERMANY.) The first of these receives the p waters of the Nogat and the Pregel, and the other those of the Memel or Niemen. East Prussia is the coldest part of Germany, its mean annual temperature being about 44º Fahr., while the mean January temperature of Tilsit is only 25°. The rainfall is 24 inches per annum. About half the province is under cultivation; 18 per cent. is occupied by forests, and 23 per cent. by meadows and pastures. The most fertile soil is found in the valleys of the Pregel and the Memel, but the southern slopes of the Baltic plateau and the district to the north of the Memel consist in great part of sterile moor, sand, and bog. The chief crops are rye, oats, and potatoes, while flax is cultivated in the district of Ermland, between the Passarge and the upper Alle. East Prussia is the headquarters d of the horse-breeding of the country and contains the principal Government stud of Trakehnen; numerous cattle are also fattened on the rich pastures of the river-valleys. The extensive woods in the south part of the province harbour a few wolves and lynxes, and the elk is still preserved in the forest of Ibenhorst, near the Kurische Haff. The fisheries in the lakes and haffs are of some importance; but the only mineral product of note is amber, which is found in the peninsula of Samland in greater abundance than in any other part of the world. Manufactures are almost confined to the principal towns, though linen-weaving is practised as a domestic industry. Commerce is facilitated by canals connecting the Memel and Pregel and also the principal lakes, but is somewhat hampered by the heavy dues exacted at the Russian frontier. A brisk foreign trade is carried on through the seaports of Königsberg (140,909), the capital of the province, and Memel (19,660), the exports consisting mainly of timber and grain. In 1880 the population of East Prussia was 1,933,936, including 1,654,510 Protestants, 250,462 s Roman Catholics, and 18,218 Jews. The Roman Catholics are mainly confined to the district of Ermland, in which the ordinary proportions of the confessions are completely reversed. The bulk of the inhabitants are of German blood, but there are 400,000 Protestant Poles (Masurians or Masovians) in the south part of the province, and 150,000 Lithuanians in the north. As in other provinces where the Polish element is strong, East Prussia is below the general average of the kingdom in education ; in 1883 fully 5 1/2 per cent. of its recruits were unable to read or write. There is a university at Königsberg.

WEST PRUSSIA (Westpreussen), with an area of 9850 square miles, is bounded by the Baltic, East Prussia, Poland, Posen, Brandenburg, and Pomerania. It resembles East Prussia in its physical characteristics, but its fertility is somewhat greater and its climate not quite so harsh. The Baltic plateau traverses the province from east to west reaching its culminating point in the Thurmberg (1090 feet), near Dantsic. Near the middle of the province the range is interrupted by the valley of the Vistula, beyond which it trends to the north and approaches the coast. The lakes of West Prussia are nearly as numerous but not so large as those of the sister province. The natural products are similar, and the manufactures are also almost confined to the large towns. The cultivation of the common beet, for the production of sugar, has been introduced, and several sugar refineries have been erected. The valley of the Vistula, particularly the rich lowlands (Werder) of the delta, are very fertile, producing good crops of wheat and pasturing large herds of horses, cattle, and sheep. The population in 1880 was 1,405 898, consisting in almost equal proportions of Roman Catholics and Protestants; there were 26,547 Jews and 490,000 Poles. The percentage of illiterate recruits in 1882 was still higher than in East Prussia (7·97), but not so high as in Posen (9·75). The capital and principal town is Dantsic (108,551), while Elbing (35,842) and Thorn (20,617) also carry on a considerable trade.

PRUSSIA, RHENISH (German, Rheinpreussen, Rheinprovinz, Rheinland), the most westerly province of the kingdom of Prussia, is bounded on the N. by Holland, on the E. by Westphalia, Hesse-Nassau, and Hesse-Darmstadt, on the S.E. by the Rhenish Palatinate, on the S. and S.W. by Lorraine, and on the W. by Luxemburg, Belgium, and Holland. The small district of Wetzlar in the midst of the province of Hesse also belongs to Rhenish Prussia, which, on the other hand, surrounds the Oldenburg principality of Birkenfeld. The extent of the province is 10,420 square miles, or nearly twice that of the kingdom of Saxony; its extreme length, from north to south, is nearly 200 miles and its greatest breadth is just under 90. It includes about 200 miles of the course of the Rhine, which forms the eastern frontier of the province from Bingen to Coblentz and then flows through it in a north-westerly direction.

The southern and larger half of Rhenish Prussia, belonging geologically to the Devonian formations of the lower Rhine, is hilly. On the left bank are the elevated plateaus of the Hundsrück and the Eifel, separated from each other by the deep valley of the Moselle, while on the right bank are the spurs of the Westerwald and the Sauerland, the former reaching the river in the picturesque group known as the Seven Mountains. The highest hill in the province is the Walderbeskopf (2670 feet) in the Hochwald, and there are several other summits above 2000 feet on the left bank, while on the right there are few which attain a height of 1600 feet. Most of the hills are covered with trees but the Eifel is a barren and bleak plateau, with numerous traces of volcanic agency, and is continued towards the north-west by the moorlands of the Hohe Venn. To the north of a line drawn from Aix-la-Chapelle to Bonn the province is flat, and marshy districts occur near the Dutch frontier. The climate varies considerably with the configuration of the surface. That of the northern lowlands and of the sheltered valleys is the mildest and most equable in Prussia, with a mean annual temperature of 50° Fahr., while on the hills of the Eifel the mean does not exceed 44°. The annual rainfall varies in the different districts from 18 to 32 inches. Almost the whole province belongs to the basin of the Rhine, but a small district in the north-west is drained by affluents of the Meuse. Of the numerous tributaries which join the Rhine within the province, the most important are the Nahe, the Moselle, and the Ahr on the left bank, and the Sieg, the Wupper, the Ruhr, and the Lippe on the right. The only lake of any size is the Laacher See, the largest of the "mare" or extinct crater lakes of the Eifel.

Of the total area of the Rhenish province about 46·5 per cent. is occupied by arable land, 17 per cent. by meadows and pastures, and 31 per cent. by forests. Little except oats and potatoes can be raised on the high-lying plateaus in the south of the province, but the river-valleys and the northern lowlands are extremely fertile. The great bulk of the soil is in the hands of small proprietors, and this is alleged to have had the effect of somewhat retarding the progress of scientific agriculture. The usual cereal crops are, however, all grown with success, and tobacco, hops, flax, rape, hemp, and beetroot (for sugar) are cultivated for commercial purposes. Large quantities of fruit are also produced. The vine-culture occupies a space of 30,000 acres, about half of which are in the valley of the Moselle, a third in that of the Rhine itself, and the rest mainly on the Nahe and the Ahr. The choicest varieties of Rhine wine, however, such as Johannisberger and Steinberger, are produced higher up the river, beyond the limits of the Rhenish province. In the hilly districts more than half the surface is sometimes occupied by forests, and large plantations of oak are formed for the use of the bark in tanning. Considerable herds of cattle are reared i on the rich pastures of the lower Rhine, but the number of sheep in the province is comparatively small, and is, indeed, not greatly in excess of that of the goats. The wooded hills are well stocked with deer, and a stray wolf occasionally finds its way from the forests of the Ardennes f into those of the Hundsrück. The salmon fishery of the Rhine is very productive and trout abound in the mountain streams. (Compare the agricultural tables under PRUSSIA, p. 14 supra.)

The great mineral wealth of the Rhenish province s probably furnishes its most substantial claim to the title of the "richest jewel in the crown of Prussia." Besides parts of the Carboniferous measures of the Saar and the Ruhr, if also contains important deposits of coal near a Aix-la-Chapelle. Iron occurs abundantly near Coblentz, the Bleiberg in the Eifel possesses an apparently inexhaustible supply of lead, and zinc is found near Cologne and Aix-la-Chapelle. The mineral products of the district also include lignite, copper, manganese, vitriol, lime, gypsum, volcanic stones (used for mill-stones), and slates. In 1882 the total value of the minerals raised in the province was £5,460,000, or nearly one-third of the produce of Prussia; by far the most important item is coal, the output of which was upwards of 15,000,000 tons, valued at .64,400,000. Of the numerous mineral springs the best known are those of Aix-la-Chapelle and Kreuznach.

The mineral resources of Rhenish Prussia, coupled with its favourable situation and the facilities of transit afforded by its great waterway, have made it the most important manufacturing district in Germany. The industry is mainly concentrated round two chief centres, Aix-la-Chapelle and Düsseldorf (with the valley of the Wupper), while there are naturally few manufactures in the hilly districts of the south or the marshy flats of the north. In the forefront stand the metallic industries, the total produce of which was valued in 1882 at £5,200,000. The foundries produced upwards of a million tons of iron, besides zinc, lead, copper, and other metals. The largest iron and steel works are at Essen (including Krupp’s cannon-foundry), Oberhausen, Düisburg, Düsseldorf, and Cologne, while cutlery and other small metallic wares are extensively made at Solingen, Remscheid, and Aix-la-Chapelle. The cloth of Aix-la-Chapelle and the silk of Crefeld form important articles of export. The chief industries of Elber-feld-Barmen and the valley of the Wupper are cotton-weaving, calico-printing, and the manufacture of turkey red and other dyes. Linen is largely made at Gladbach, leather at Malmedy, glass in the Saar district, and beet-root sugar near Cologne. Though the Rhineland is par excellence the country of the vine, no less than 52,000,000 gallons of beer were brewed in the province in 1882-83, equivalent to an annual consumption of fifty-one quarts per head of population; distilleries are also numerous, and large quantities of sparkling Moselle are made at Coblentz, chiefly for exportation to England. Commerce is greatly aided by the navigable rivers, a very extensive network of railways, and the excellent roads constructed during the French regime. The imports consist mainly of raw material for working up in the factories of the district, while the principal exports are coal, fruit, wine, dyes, cloth, silk, and other manufactured articles of various descriptions.

The population of Rhenish Prussia in 1880 was 4,074,000, including 2,944,186 Roman Catholics, 1,077,173 Protest-ants, and 43,694 Jews. The Roman Catholics muster strongest on the left bank, while on the right bank about half the population is Protestant. The distribution of the confessions is, however, somewhat sporadic, owing to the varied histories of the constituent parts of the province. The great bulk of the population is of Teutonic stock, and about a quarter of a million are of Flemish blood. On the north-west frontier reside about 12; 000 Walloons, who speak French or Walloon as their native tongue. The Rhine province is the most thickly populated part of Prussia, the general average being 390 persons per square mile, while in the government district of Düsseldorf the proportion rises to 754. The province contains a greater number of large towns than any other province in Prussia, and 62·5 of the population is returned as urban. Upwards of half the population, are supported by industrial and commercial pursuits, and barely a quarter by agriculture. There is a university of good standing at Bonn, and the success of the elementary education is borne witness to by the fact that in 1883 only 0·19 per cent. of the Rhenish recruits were unable to read and write. For purposes of administration the province is divided into the five districts of Coblentz, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Aix-la-Chapelle, and Treves; Coblentz is the official capital, though Cologne is the largest and most important town. In the greater part of the province the Code Napoleon, introduced under the French regime, is still in force. Being a frontier province the Rhineland is strongly garrisoned, and the Rhine is guarded by the four strong fortresses of Cologne with Deutz, Coblentz with Ehrenbreitstein, Wesel, and Saarlouis. In the Prussian parliament the province of the Rhine is represented by twenty-seven members in the upper house and eighty-two in the lower.

History.—The present province of Rhenish Prussia was formed in 1815 out of the duchies of Cleves, Berg, Upper Guelders, and Jülich, the ecclesiastical principalities of Treves and Cologne, the free cities of Aix-la-Chapelle and Cologne, and nearly a hundred small independent lordships, knightships, and abbeys. It is therefore manifestly impracticable to give more than a broad general sketch of the historical development of a region of which the component parts have had so little of their past in common. At the earliest historical period we find the territories between the Ardennes and the Rhine occupied by the Treviri, Eburones, and other Celtic tribes, who, however, were all more or less modified and influenced by their Teutonic neighbours. On the right bank of the Rhine, between the Main and the Lahn, were the settlements of the Mattiaci, a branch of the Germanic Chatti, while farther to the north were the Usipetes and Tencteri. Julius Caesar conquered the tribes on the left bank and Augustus established numerous fortified posts on the Rhine, but the Romans never succeeded in gaining a firm footing on the right bank. Under the Romans the districts to the west of the Rhine, forming parts of the provinces of Belgica Prima, Germania Superior, and Germania Inferior, enjoyed great prosperity and reached a high degree of civilization. Several Roman emperors resided and issued their edicts at Treves, the capital of Belgica Prima, and the important Roman remains in this city as well as in other parts of the province give an idea of the material benefits the territory derived from their dominion. As the power of the Roman empire declined the Franks pushed forward along both banks of the Rhine, and by the end of the 5th century had regained all the lands that had formerly been under Teutonic influence. The German conquerors of the Rhenish districts were singularly little affected by the culture of the provincials they subdued, and all traces of Roman civilization were submerged in a new flood of paganism. By the 8th century the Prankish dominion was firmly established in central Germany and northern Gaul; and under the Carlovingian monarchs the Rhineland, and especially Aix-la-Chapelle, plays a rô1e of considerable prominence. On the division of the Carlovingian realm the part of the Rhenish province to the east of the river fell to the share of Germany, while that to the west remained with the evanescent middle kingdom of Lotharingia. By the time of Otho I. (936-973) both banks of the Rhine had become German, and the Rhenish territory was divided between the duchies of Upper and Lower Lorraine, the one on the Moselle and the other on the Meuse. Subsequently, as the central power of the German sovereign became weakened, the Rhineland followed the general tendency and split up into numerous small independent principalities, each with its separate vicissitudes and special chronicles. The old Lotharingian divisions passed wholly out of use, and the name of Lorraine became restricted to the district that still bears it. In spite of its dismembered condition, and the sufferings it underwent at the hands of its French neighbours in various periods of warfare, the Rhenish territory prospered greatly and stood in the foremost rank of German culture and progress. Aix-la-Chapelle was fixed upon as the place of coronation of the German emperors, and the ecclesiastical principalities of the Rhine bulk largely in German history. Prussia first set foot on the Rhine in 1609 by the joint occupation of Cloves; and about a century later Upper Guelders and Mörs also became Prussian. At the peace of Basel in 1795 the whole of the left bank of the Rhine was resigned to France, and in 1806 the Rhenish princes all joined the Confederation of the Rhine. The congress of Vienna assigned the whole of the lower Rhenish districts to Prussia, which had the tact to leave them in undisturbed possession of the liberal institutions they had become accustomed to under the republican rule of the French. (Compare RHINE.) (J. F. M.)


5-1 The traditionary connexion of the name with the proximity of Russia seems unfounded, and the form Borussia or Porussia, which has been adopted as the Latin appellation of the country, is used for the first time by a chronicler of the fifteenth century.

8-1 Strictly speaking, the title assumed was "king in Prussia" (König in Preussen), this apparently being meant to indicate that there was still a Prussia (West Prussia) of which he was not king, though it has also been otherwise explained.

10-1 One illustration of this is afforded by the fact that the private soldiers felt no resentment at being struck by their officers.

11-1 Previous to this measure the distinction between "noble," "burgher," and "peasant" land and occupations was strictly observed, and no transition of property or employment from one class to another was possible.

12-1 The patrimonial jurisdiction of the landowners was not taken away till 1848.

13-1 The physical features of Prussia have been already so fully described under GERMANY that it has been deemed unnecessary to give here more than the briefest recapitulation. For other points which the reader may here miss he is also referred to that article.

15-1 Over-production, stimulated by over-protection and the high bounty on exportation, produced a serious crisis in this industry in 1884.

19-1 Compare Lohmeyer’s Geschichte von Ost u. West Preussen (1881, sq.).

The above article was written by: J. F. Muirhead.

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-23 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries