His father, Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand von Bismarck —was a Junker estate owner and a former Prussian military officer; his mother, Wilhelmine Luise Mencken —was the well educated daughter of a senior government official in Berlin. He had two siblings: The world saw Bismarck as a typical Prussian Junker, an image that he encouraged by wearing military uniforms. Bismarck was well educated and cosmopolitan with a gift for conversation.
Related link pages The Unification of Germany as guided by Bismarck During the summer ofand into Bismarck and german unification summer ofthe Prussian Government invited other north German States to enter into a fresh "Erfurt" union on the basis of a new Constitution - to be that accepted by the Frankfurt Parliament ofbut altered so far as might be found necessary.
The union was to be a voluntary one. Otto von Bismarck was a Prussian aristocrat and was, as such, opposed to this policy of the King of Prussia and his ministers.
In all these proposals for a new Constitution he saw only that Prussia would be required to sacrifice its complete independence; that the King of Prussia would become executor for the decrees of a popular and alien Parliament.
They were asked to cease to be Prussians in order that they might become Germans. In a speech to the Prussian Assembly on 6 September Bismarck said: Prussians we are and Prussians will we remain; I know that in these words I speak the confession of the Prussian army and the majority of my fellow-countrymen, and I hope to God that we will still long remain Prussian when this sheet of paper is forgotten like a withered autumn leaf.
He had entered political life almost by accident, having been deputised in the place of another who had been taken ill. German-nationally minded liberals in northern Germany were inspired by the career of the chief minister to the House of Savoy, Camillo de Cavour who had, in the summer ofachieved a greater degree of integration of northern "Italian" territory under the leadership of the Victor Emmanuel IIto form, in Novemberthe Nationalverein or National Union.
This soon grew into being a liberal-national movement actively supported by several thousand parliamentarians, professors, lawyers and journalists who exerted their diverse efforts towards the establishment of a more unified and powerful "German" state.
In these times Bismarck was serving as a diplomat in the Prussian service and had been accredited to the Court of the Tsar in St Petersburg since the early months of In March,whilst on leave in Berlin, Bismarck paid courtesy calls upon the leaders of the Nationalverein in Berlin.
Early in King Frederick William IV, whose mind had failed, was replaced as King of Prussia by his brother, who had been serving as regent, but who now came to the throne as King Wilhelm I. Bismarck prepared a memorandum on the German question for the consideration of King Wilhelm I, this was delivered to the King at Baden-Baden at the end of July In this so-called "Baden-Baden Memorial" Bismarck advocated that Prussia should attempt to exploit the growing sentiment of German patriotism by supporting a demand "for a national assembly of the German people".
In March,Bismarck received a new diplomatic posting that led to his becoming Prussian ambassador to France. This visit was ostensibly for the purpose of visiting an Industrial Exhibition but Bismarck met several senior British statesmen including Disraeli, leader of the Opposition, to whom he outlined his proposal for bring a form of unity to Germany under Prussian leadership even if this involved a degree of conflict with the Austrian Empire.
That evening Disrali was heard to remark "Take care of that man! He means what he says! Wilhelm I was advised by his Minister of War, Roon, to send for Bismarck as a formidable personality who might secure the passing of the budget and the associated military reforms in the Landtag.
On the 17 September the crisis had reached such a pitch that King Wilhelm I seriously considered abdicating his throne. That evening Roon sent by telegraph to Bismarck suggesting that he, Bismarck, should hurry to Berlin and that there was danger in delay. The message in French and Latin read: On 22 September Bismarck met King Wilhelm I and assured him that he could form a ministry and carry through the army reforms desired by the king, if necessary against the will of the deputies in the Landtag.
Given this assurance the King decided not to abdicate.
Bismarck was appointed acting chief minister to the House of Hohenzollern. Bismarck made an appearance before the Landtag on the 29 September where he spoke expressing his regret at the hostility of the deputies to passing of the military budget and stressed the need for progress to be made on the military proposals favoured by the king.
The next day at a meeting of a Budget Committee Bismarck went perhaps further than he his better judgement might have intended in asserting that: Prussia must concentrate its strength and hold it for the favourable moment, which has already come and gone several times.
Since the treaties of Vienna, our frontiers have been ill-designed for a healthy body politic. Not through speeches and majority decisions will the great questions of the day be decided - that was the great mistake of and - but by iron and blood".
This somewhat aggressively phrased speech caused alarm to liberal opinion in the Germanies and beyond. This was in part attributable to subsequent reportage amending its wording to read more pithily as " blood and iron ". As Minister-President of Prussia Bismarck arranged things such that the increase in the size of the army took place despite the opposition of the Landtag.
The existing practices of the Prussian state allowed Bismarck to continue in office provided the King was willing to remain favourable to his ministry. Popular Nationalism was seen by Bismarck as being potentially erosive of his desired future for the Prussian Kingdom.
This nationalism being a liberal German nationalism which offered to seek to incorporate Prussia, along with other German states, into an extensive "constitutional-liberal" German state. Bismarck began to devise schemes whereby the Prussian king and kingdom could better hope to receive the respect of many of those in Prussia, and more widely in the German states, who held German liberal-nationalist-constitutionalist sympathies.
He came to see that the prestige Prussia already enjoyed in Germany, both as a notably powerful and somewhat constitutional state, and as the central power to a pervasively influential "Zollverein", or Customs Union, could be exploited to secure the acceptance of policies embarked upon by a Prussian government to promote German unification.
It being understood by Bismarck that such promotion of German unification was to be on terms acceptable to a Kingdom of Prussia where the king retained his sovereignty.
If there is to be a revolution, we would rather make it, than suffer it. Otto von Bismarck In January the Poles in Russian administered Polish territories again attempted to forcefully win concessions of change from a reluctant Tsar-King. Russia regarded the retention of its Polish lands as a principal aim of policy.The Unification of Germany as guided by Bismarck During the summer of , and into the summer of , the Prussian Government invited other north German States to enter into a fresh "Erfurt" union on the basis of a new Constitution - to be that accepted by the Frankfurt Parliament of , but altered so far as might be found necessary.
After this, it seemed that German unification was no nearer to happening than ever, and the Kings Princes and Dukes of the German states – who were opposed to unification for obvious reasons – generally retained their power.
This was a far cry from the heady dreams of the earlier intellectuals, but, as Bismarck famously said. Germany had been fragmented into as many as separate states ever since the Investiture Struggle in the Middle Ages had wrecked the power of the German emperors.
The Austrians and French opposed German unification as a threat to their dominance in central Europe. In , Bismarck convinced Austria to enter into an alliance to wrest two Germanic states, Schleswig and Holstein, from Danish control.
Prussia, German Preussen, Polish Prusy, in European history, any of certain areas of eastern and central Europe, respectively (1) the land of the Prussians on the southeastern coast of the Baltic Sea, which came under Polish and German rule in the Middle Ages; (2) the kingdom ruled from by the German Hohenzollern dynasty, including Prussia and Brandenburg, with Berlin as its capital.
Bismarck and the Development of Germany, Vol. 1: The Period of Unification, 1st Edition.