Bismark-Schonhausen. Otto Ednard Leopold, prince, a German statesman, born at the manor of Schonhausen, in the district of Magdeburg, April 1, 1815. His father, Karl Wil-helm Ferdinand von Bismarck, was captain in the royal body guard of Prussia, and died in 1845. His mother, who died in 1839, was a daughter of Cabinet Councillor Menken. The Bismarck family has been known for upward of five centuries, during which period several members of it were prominent chiefly as military men under the electors of Brandenburg and the kings of Prussia. Otto von Bismarck was one of six children, the two eldest and the youngest of whom died in infancy. In 1832 he studied jurisprudence and political science at Got-tingen. Toward the end of 1833 he entered the university of Berlin, and was admitted to the bar in June, 1835. In 1836-7 he was referendary at Aix-la-Chapelle and Potsdam. He served his years of military duty partly in the latter city (1837) and partly in Greifs-wald (1838), where he familiarized himself with the science of husbandry. In 1847 he attended the first united diet at Berlin in his capacity of district delegate of the nobility at the diet of the province of Saxony, and became known as an able and vehement opponent of liberal reforms.
In 1848, after the first storm of the revolution, he participated in the gathering of the rural nobility in Berlin, known under the nickname of the Junker parliament, and wrote in favor of the feudal party in the newly established Kreuzzeitung. In 1849-50, as a member of the second chamber of the Prussian diet, he urged increased powers for the monarchy, and the consolidation of the German nationality by the joint action of Prussia and Austria. He combated the schemes of union discussed at the Frankfort and Erfurt parliaments, though he was himself a member of the latter, as destructive of the true basis of Prussian power; and in his reactionary zeal even applauded Manteuft'el's surrender to Austria at Olmiitz. After having been secretary of legation, he was appointed in August, 1851, Prussian ambassador to the Germanic diet at Frankfort. Here he soon manifested a decided turn in his international views, and the pretensions of Austria were repelled by him with so much bitterness that on the eve of the Franco-Italian war of 1859 it was judged prudent to transfer him to St. Petersburg, where he strengthened the friendly relations between Russia and Prussia, and remained till the spring of 1862. He then became Prussian ambassador in Paris for a few months, and in September of the same year succeeded Prince Hohenzollern as prime minister, first provisionally, and on Oct. 8 became the virtual head of the administration and minister of foreign affairs.
During the long and exciting conflict between the diet and the government on the subject of the increase and reform of the army, the new premier took strong ground in favor of strengthening the military force, and of the royal prerogative in general. Despite the unfriendly attitude of Austria, he was unceasing in his efforts to effect a joint action with that power in the interest of German unity, and succeeded in procuring her cooperation in the Schleswig-Holstein war (1864), notwithstanding the unwillingness of the Germanic diet. He concluded a new commercial treaty with Austria in 1865. The Gastein convention, Aug. 14, 1865, put an end for a time to the Schleswig-Holstein complications. Bismarck was promoted to the rank of count, Sept. 20, and invested with ministerial authority over the newly conquered territories. The relations with Austria, however, continuing unsatisfactory, Bismarck concluded an alliance with Italy, and war was declared against Austria and her allies at the Frankfort diet (June, 1866). A few weeks' campaign sufficed to crush them, and the treaty of Prague (Aug. 23) extinguished Austria as a German power, dissolved the old German diet, secured Schleswig-Holstein to Prussia, and placed Prussia at the head of a North German confederation.
The statesman formerly so unpopular and even hated, on whose life shortly before the outbreak of the war an attempt was made by a young fanatic, was now idolized by the Prussian people. The victories achieved by Bismarck's diplomacy for the country, and the renown won by the army, put an end to the long parliamentary conflict, and a national endowment was conferred upon him by the chambers. The annexation of Hanover, Hesee-CasseL, Nassau, Frankfort, and Schles-tfig-Holstein to Prussia, and the establishment of the North German confederation, with the adhesion of Saxony and other states, were considered chiefly due to his ability. He averted war with France on the Luxemburg question by the treaty of London (1867); but the new diplomatic success achieved here by Prussia, in addition to the prestige gained by her previously, increased the jealousy of France, especially as Napoleon's attempt at a coalition with Austria was baffled by Bismarck's secret treaties with the South German states, and by his understanding with Italy. The accession of a Hohenzollern prince to the Roumanian throne being followed in 1870 by a project of raising another prince of that house to the Spanish throne, Napoleon seized this incident as a pretext for a declaration of war, which under Bismarck's influence was met both by the North German confederation and the South German states, with Prussia at their head, with such an unprecedented spirit that France was utterly prostrated in the war, while King William, victorious from the beginning to the end, was proclaimed emperor of Germany at Versailles, Jan. 18, 1871; and he soon afterward promoted Count Bismarck, as the originator of the brilliant triumphs of Germany, to the rank of prince with the title of chancellor of the German empire.
Throughout the Avar Bismarck was by the side of the emperor, displaying at every step new talents for executive and diplomatic affairs. In internal affairs his policy had in the meanwhile gradually assumed a more and more liberal complexion. In. 1872 he took strong ground against the doctrine of papal infallibility, caused the expulsion of the Jesuits from Prussia, and insisted upon the subjection of the Roman Catholic church to the civil government. (See Prussia, and Germany.) - Among the many recent works relating to Prince Bismarck are Ludwig Bamberger's M. de Bismarck (Paris, 1868; German translation, Berlin, 1868); Dr. Konstantin Bossier's Qrqf Bismarck und die deutsche Nation (Berlin, 1871); and Hesekiel's "Life of Bismarck. Private and Political," translated into English by Kenneth R. II. Mackenzie (1870).