Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismark

[Prince Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismark] (1815-1898) Prince, statesman, born Schonhausen, Germany; died Friedrichsruh. He entered the University of Gottingen, 1832, then studied law in Berlin. About 1846 he became a member of the provincial diet of Saxony; in 1847, deputy from Brandenburg in the Prussian Diet; and in 1850, Prussian delegate at Frankfurt. He quickly gained the confidence of Frederick William IV. Bismarck worked for the removal of Austria from the Germanic Confederation. In 1857 he was appointed ambassador to Russia, and in 1861, to Paris. In 1862 he became minister of foreign affairs and head of the cabinet. He created a large army which, 3 July 1866, crushed Austria at Sadowa, terminating the Seven Weeks War. This victory assured Prussian supremacy. Bismarck now turned to the consolidation of the North German states. He headed the German Liberal Nationals and granted a new constitution with universal suffrage. In 1870 the Franco-Prussian War tested the strength of the German union. Germany emerged victorious, and the states of North and South Germany united under William, crowned first German Emperor in the Palace of Versailles, 18 January 1871. Bismarck was made chancellor with the title of prince. He next concentrated on the nationalization of the empire. In his effort to crush all possible enemies he inaugurated the Kulturkampf (struggle for civilization) against Catholics whom he feared because of their allegiance to the pope. With the election of Pope Leo XIII a reconciliation was effected, and by 1884 diplomatic relations had been resumed with Rome. In 1882 he had formed the Triple Alliance of Austria, Germany, and Italy. The last years of his chancellorship were devoted to a vigorous campaign against socialism, but with the accession of William II, 1888, his long domination came to an end. His resignation was requested, 1890, and he withdrew to his estate of Lauenburg.

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