Prussia, the largest and leading state of the German empire, occupying a northern central portion of the European continent, between lat. 49° and 56° N., and lon. 5° 45' and 23° E. It is bounded N. by the North sea, Denmark, and the Baltic; E. by Russia; S. by Cisleithan Austria, the kingdom of Saxony, the Thurin-gian states, Bavaria, Hesse, and Alsace-Lorraine; and W. by Luxemburg, Belgium, and Holland. Its greatest length, from a point near where the Niemen or Memel crosses the N. E. frontier to the point of junction of its boundaries with those of Luxemburg and Alsace-Lorraine, is 800 m.; the longest line that can be drawn on its soil in a direction nearly at right angles to this extends from the Baltic coast N. W. of Stralsund to the S. E. extremity of the province of Silesia, and measures a little more than 400 m. The area of Prussia, according to the official figures which are made the basis for the land tax (but which, owing to very recent territorial changes, are perhaps not absolutely accurate), is 136,656 sq. m. including the area of all the principal gulfs, bays, and arms of the sea, and 134,496 sq. m. excluding all bodies of water except inland lakes.
The kingdom is divided into 12 provinces (inclusive of the detached Hohenzollern, and exclusive of Lauenburg), and these into administrative districts named after their respective chief towns, as follows.
Area, sq. miles.
Königsberg, Gumbinnen, Dantzic, Marienwerder.
(Berlin), Potsdam, Frank-fort-on-the-Oder.
Stettin, Köslin, Stralsund.
Hanover, Hildesheim, Lüne-burg, Stade, Osnabrück, Aurich.
Münster, Minden, Arnsberg.
The Rhine Province.....
Duchy of Lauenburg
Grand total .............
Until 1866 the territory of Prussia was not only divided into two portions by the kingdom of Hanover, the electorate of Hesse, and other foreign possessions lying in its midst, but was also dotted here and there by small independent principalities and duchies, which greatly hindered its unity of action and made its political geography extremely complicated. These have all been absorbed since the war of 1866, with the exception of the following small states and tracts of land, which are still subject to other German powers, though surrounded by Prussian territory: three communes in the province of Brandenburg, belonging to Mecklenburg-Schwerin; the city of Hamburg and vicinity, with tracts belonging to it in Holstein and Hanover; the duchy of Anhalt, divided into eight portions; the duchy of Brunswick, also in eight portions; the principalities of Schaumburg-Lippe (in two portions) and Lippe-Detmold; the principality of "Waldeck (in two portions); Allstedt and Oldisleben, a territory belonging to Weimar (in two portions); Volkerode, belonging to Gotha; territories belonging to Schwarzburg-Sondershausen and Schwarzburg-Rudolstein; the village of Mumsdorf, belonging to Alten-burg; the Hessian province of Upper Hesse, with a territory belonging to it in the province of Hesse-Nassau; the principality of Birken-feld in the Rhine province, belonging to Oldenburg; two tracts owned by Baden and three by Würtemberg in the Hohenzollern domains.
The larger territory of the duchies of Mecklenburg - Schwerin and Mecklenburg - Strelitz (with the adjoining Lübeck and a detached portion of Oldenburg) in the north, and the grand duchy of Oldenburg (with the adjoining Bremen) in the northwest, each surrounded by Prussian territory on three sides, but having their own seacoast, are now the only states of consequence which break in upon the outline and territorial unity of the country.
In addition to the united territory enclosed by the boundaries given above, Prussia has the following outlying possessions: six communes and domains in Mecklenburg-Schwerin; Gross-menow in Mecklenburg-Strelitz; a commune, formerly belonging to Hanover, in the territory of Hamburg; seven communes in Anhalt; four tracts in. Brunswick; one in Oldenburg; the town of Lügde between Lippe-Detmold and Waldeck; two villages in Waldeck; Kischlitz in Saxe-Altenburg; the circle of Zie-genrück, in six portions, lying near Meiningen, Weimar, Rudolstadt, etc.; Moleschütz, Abtlöb-nitz, and Barchfeld in Saxe-Meiningen; Wan-dersleben and Mühlberg in Saxe-Gotha; the circles of Schleusingen and Smalcald in Thu-ringia, in several divisions; and the domains of the Hohenzollerns, in eleven portions, scattered through the territory of Baden, Würtemberg, and Bavaria. The duchy of Lauenburg belongs to the king of Prussia, without being consolidated with the kingdom. (See Lau-enburg.) - The coast line of Prussia on the North sea is about 250 m. long; on the Baltic it measures about 750 m.
On both seas the shore is almost uniformly flat and low; so much so that at several points on the North sea, and where the province of Prussia borders on the Baltic, dikes have been built to protect the tracts of nearly level land that stretch away from the water's edge, parts of them lying lower than the surface of the ocean. The only exceptions to this formation are the more rugged coasts of N. E. Schleswig, and the high chalk cliffs of the island of Rügen, lying in the Baltic off Stralsund. On the North sea the Dollart (the estuary of the Ems), the bay of Jade, and the estuaries of the Weser and Elbe, form excellent harbors, their ports being respectively Emden, Wilhelmshaven, Bremen, and Hamburg; while on the Baltic the best are those of Kiel, Stralsund, Stettin, and Dantzic, the last two respectively at the mouths of the Oder and Vistula. The chief gulfs and bays are formed on both seas by the broadening estuaries of the rivers named, the Oder and Vistula forming at their mouths large bodies of water almost enclosed by land, known respectively as the Stettiner Haff and the Frisches Haff, while the Kurisches Haff, at the extreme N. E. of the coast, is a similar body receiving the river Memel. - The greater part of the surface of Prussia is flat and low; an extended plain, sloping toward the north, and only broken by small detached ranges of hills, forms the northern portion.
The direction of such ranges is in almost every case N. E. and S. W.; but the highest of their summits in the north is the Thurmberg, near Dantzic, 1,131 ft. The surface of the S. part is more varied, and some portions of it are mountainous and picturesque. The S. W. boundary of Silesia is formed by the Riesengebirge (highest peak about 5,300 ft.) and its various continuations. The N. and E. parts of the province of Saxony form almost a perfect level, interrupted only by inconsiderable hills; the S. W. portion is intersected by projecting spurs of the Hartz mountains (highest elevation the Brocken or Blocksberg, 3,737 ft.), and the Thuringian forest. Westphalia, the Rhine province, and Hesse-Nassau contain the N. W. group of the mountain system of Germany, each of its numerous ridges having its own distinctive name. The more important are: on the right bank of the Rhine, the Taunus, the Weser hills, including the picturesque gap known as the Porta West-phalica, the Teutoburg forest (the battle ground of the Germans and Romans), the Roth-haar hills, the Sauerland hills (2,800 ft.), the Siebengebirge, the Westerwald, the Spessart, the Rhön, and offshoots from the Vogelsberg; on the left bank of the Rhine, the Hunsrück, Hohe Venn, and Eifel (2,500 ft.). The Ho-henzollern territory is intersected by the Rauhe Alp. - Prussia contains a large number of lakes, especially in the level N. E. section, but none of them are of much importance. (For the principal lakes see Germany, vol. vii., p. 746.) There are large swamps on the lower course of the Havel, Oder, Warthe, and Netze rivers, which many attempts have been made to drain.
All the river systems of Prussia belong to the basins of the Baltic and North seas. The principal rivers belonging to the basin of the Baltic are the Memel, Vistula (with its tributaries the Drewenz and Brahe), and Oder (with its tributaries the Bartsch, Bober, Neisse, and Warthe). Independent of these are a number of coast rivers, viz., the Dange, Pregel, Passarge, Elbing, Leba, Lupow, Stolpe, Wipper, Persante, Rega, Ihna, Peene, Ucker, Recknitz, and Trave, nearly all of them navigable for some distance. Belonging to the North sea basin are the Eider, the Elbe (with its tributaries the Mulde, Saale, and Havel), the Weser, formed by the Werra and Fulda (with its tributary the Aller), the Ems (with the Vechte), and the Rhine. The Rhine flows through Prussian territory about 200 m., entering it at Mentz, forming about 29 m. of the boundary of Hesse-Darmstadt, receiving on the right bank the Main, Lahn, Wied, Sieg, Wipper, Ruhr, and Lippe, and on the left bank the Nahe, Moselle, and Ahr, and passing into Holland a little below Emmerich. Prussia has a large number of artificial watercourses, the Vistula and Oder being connected by the Bromberg canal, the Oder and Spree (an affluent of the Havel) by the Müllrose canal, the Havel and Elbe by the Plau canal, the Elbe and Trave by the Stecknitz canal, and the Eider and the Baltic by the Eider canal.
Other canals connect small adjacent river systems in the western provinces. - The climate is wholesome and temperate. The mean temperature at Königsberg is 43° F., at Berlin 48°, at Aix-la-Chapelle 49°, and at Cologne and Treves 50°. The soil, though in some mountainous districts of the western section extremely desolate and sterile, and in a large division of the middle provinces a poor loamy sand, is on the whole fertile, and preeminently so in the bottoms of the Elbe, Saale, Unstrut (an affluent of the Saale), Oder, Warthe, Netze, and some other rivers. Even where it is naturally poor, a well developed system of agriculture, assiduously fostered by the government, renders it highly productive. - The population of Prussia, according to the census of 1871 (corrected tables of 1873), was as follows:
Hanover (including the Jade district).........................
Soldiers and Sailors not included above..................
Duchy of Lauenburg..................................................
The excess of females over males was 357,542. Of the entire population about 21,800,000 speak German, 146,800 are Lithuanians, 2,420,000 (in Prussia, Posen, and Pomerania) Poles, 50,-000 (in Silesia) Czechs, 83,000 (in Silesia and Brandenburg) Wends, 10,400 (in the Rhine province) Walloons, and 145,000 (in Schleswig-Holstein) Danes. Prussia has one city (Berlin) of more than 900,000 inhabitants (in August, 1873, 909,580), 5 of from 100,000 to 210,-000 (Breslau, Cologne, Magdeburg, Königsberg, and Hanover), 12 of from 50,000 to 100,000 (Frankfort-on-the-Main, Dantzic, Stettin, Barmen, Elberfeld, Aix-la-Chapelle, Altona, Düs-seldorf, Crefeld, Posen, Halle, and Essen), and 6 of from 40,000 to 50,000 (Cassel, Dortmund, Potsdam, Erfurt, Frankfort-on-the-Oder, and Görlitz). The number of births in 1872 was 1,023,005, of which 73,527 were illegitimate and 40,505 still-born; of deaths, 765,360; of marriages, 255,421. The number of emigrants from 1844 to 1872 was 706,562; of immigrants, 110,973. - Of the total area of the kingdom, 50.1 per cent. consists of tilled fields, gardens, vineyards, and orchards, 18.3 meadows, 23.1 woodland, and 8.5 unproductive land.
All kinds of grain are produced in abundance in Prussia proper, Posen, Silesia, and Saxony, all of which export breadstuffs to the other provinces or to foreign countries. An average grain crop is estimated at 53,000,000 bushels of wheat, 194,000,000 of rye, 34,000,000 of barley, and 154,000,000 of oats. Of potatoes about 495,000,000 bushels are raised. Spelt, peas, rape seed, dyestuffs, herbs, flax, hemp, chiccory, hops, and beets (chiefly used for the sugar manufacture) are cultivated in large quantities in all parts of the kingdom. Tobacco is largely raised in western and central Prussia, but has of late considerably decreased in amount; the produce of raw tobacco in 1869 was about 17,000,000 lbs. Of the vineyards full four fifths are on the Rhine and its tributaries; their average yield is about 10,000,000 gallons. Wine of good quality is produced only near the Rhine; those brands which are produced in Saxony (Naumburg) and Silesia (Grüneberg) are proverbially bad. The forests furnish an abundance of excellent timber and lumber. In the raising of domestic animals the progress of Prussia since its reconstruction after the wars of Napoleon has been more marked than in any other agricultural pursuit.
The breed of horses has been so improved by government studs, that not only are all the horses wanted for army purposes obtained within the state, but large numbers are exported to neighboring countries. In 1873 the total number of horses was 2,278,274, of cattle 8,612,150, of sheep 19,624,758, and of swine 4,278,531. Hogs are most numerous in "Westphalia, geese in Pomerania, bees in Brandenburg and Westphalia, and goats in the mountainous districts; poultry is abundant everywhere. The fisheries on the shores of the Baltic and on the lakes and rivers are important, and all kinds of game common to central Europe are found in the forests. Wolves are seen only in Prussia proper and Posen, where also a few specimens of the aurochs and elk are carefully preserved. The lynx, fox, badger, marten, beaver, otter, and wild fowl are met with in different parts of the kingdom. Seals are sometimes caught in the Baltic. - Mining industry advanced with astonishing rapidity within the second quarter of the present century.; it received a temporary check in 1858, but has since made great progress, especially in the production of coal, iron, and zinc.
In 1872 the total number of mines in Prussia was 2,702, among which were 476 coal mines, 544 of brown coal, 1,559 of iron, 130 of lead, 82 of zinc, 39 of copper, 5 of vitriol, 46 of manganese, and 1 of cobalt, employing 225,936 hands, including women and children. The total value of mining products was $82,460,000. The production of coal in 1872 amounted to 581,000,000 cwt., that of brown coal to 146,-000,000 cwt. In the production of raw iron Prussia exceeds all other states of the European continent; in the production of zinc all the countries of the world. The value of the products of furnaces, founderies, puddling works, etc., in 1872, was $59,000,000. About 9,280,000 cwt. of salt was produced in that year. A very small quantity of gold is found; and agate, amethysts, alabaster, marble, gypsum, clays, etc., are obtained. Amber is found on the Baltic coast. Among the mineral springs of Prussia the following enjoy the widest reputation: Warmbrunn, Salzbrunn, Reinerz, and Landeck in Silesia; Freienwalde in Brandenburg; Lauchstädt in Saxony; Driburg in Westphalia; the sulphur springs of Aix-la-Chapelle; Wiesbaden, Ems, Selters, Schwal-bach, and Homburg in Hesse-Nassau. - Up to the beginning of the present century Prussia was mainly an agricultural and military state.
Even the efforts of Frederick the Great to introduce new branches of manufacture were in the main unsuccessful. It was only after the final abolition of serfdom (Oct. 9, 1807), the introduction of municipal self-government (Nov. 19, 1808), and the removal of the mediaeval institution of trade guilds (Oct. 28, 1810), that manufacturing industry began to take root in Prussia. Soon after Napoleon's downfall the government turned its earnest attention to fostering home manufactures, and during the past 50 years the industry of Prussia has steadily and rapidly advanced. In 1806 the population of Prussia was 10,000,000, with an average income of $10 to each inhabitant; the capital invested in manufacturing establishments little exceeded $200,000,000, and the number of free laborers was 480,000. In 1856 the average income of over 17,000,000 inhabitants was $42 each, the capital invested in manufactures $770,000,000, and the number of free laborers 2,771,000. In 1872 the total income of the 24,600,000 inhabitants was estimated at $1,880,000,000, an average of $76 to each inhabitant. A powerful impulse has recently been given to Prussian industry by the results of the Franco-German war.
The increase of capital and the strengthened confidence of the capitalists in the lasting prominence of Prussia and Germany led to the establishment of a large number of new manufactories and the enlargement of many old ones. Among the new branches of industry the manufacture of beet sugar stands foremost, the number of factories in 1873 amounting to 257. The introduction of the cotton manufacture has been attended with great losses. In 1846 the number of spindles was 194,290; in 1856, 289,000; in 1866, about 600,000. The linen manufacture has been developed to the greatest perfection in Silesia and Westphalia, and has of late assumed larger dimensions in the provinces of Hanover and Hesse-Nassau. Among the most prosperous manufactures of the kingdom is that of woollen goods, which is chiefly carried on in the two Rhenish districts of Aix-la-Chapelle and Düsseldorf and in the provinces of Brandenburg, Saxony, and Silesia. Large manufactories of silks are found in the Rhine province, Westphalia, and Brandenburg. Hardware of all kinds is manufactured in all the provinces except Prussia proper and Posen. The machine shops of Berlin rival the largest establishments of the kind in England, while the great iron and steel works of Krupp at Essen are now the most extensive and famous in the world.
Solingen and Suhl are celebrated for cutlery and guns; Silesia for castings and sheet iron; Westphalia for scythes and needles. In 1868 the iron works of Prussia produced 10,279,000 cwt. of bar and rolled iron, 2,408,000 of steel, 1,781,-000 of sheet iron, 862,156 of iron wire, and 3,490,000 of castings. Rapid as the increase of the production of raw iron has been, it has not been able to keep pace with the increase of consumption. The manufacture of leather, morocco, cordovan, etc., flourishes in Saxony, in Berlin, and in Prussia proper. In the manufacture of paper the progress has been more rapid even than in textile fabrics; it is carried on in the Rhine province, Westphalia, Brandenburg, Saxony, and Silesia. Chiccory and starch are manufactured principally in Saxony, tobacco in all parts of the kingdom. The most extensive copper and brass manufacturing establishments are found in Saxony and on the Rhine. Glass ware, crockery, stoneware, and china are produced in large quantities, principally in the central and eastern provinces.
The porcelain of Berlin rivals the best made in France. Tassels, fringes, trimmings, etc., are manufactured at Breslau, Magdeburg, Cologne, and Berlin; furniture and pianos at Berlin. - The postal arrangements of Prussia, which have long been celebrated for their admirable convenience, economy, and exactness, have now, in common with those of the other states of the German empire, passed into the hands of the imperial government, by which however their leading features are retained. The telegraphs, all of which are under state control, followed the same course. The aggregate length of the railway lines in operation in May, 1874, was 9,042 m., of which 2,520 m. were comprised in roads belonging to the state, 1,611 m. in roads of private companies managed by the state, and 4,911 m. in roads belonging to and managed by private companies. The rolling stock in 1872 consisted of 4,327 locomotives, 6,794 passenger cars, and 95,296 freight cars. The number of passengers carried over the roads in 1872 was 86,442,679; total freight, 1,550,000,000 cwt. In 1873 the commercial marine comprised 2,961 vessels (including river steamers), with an aggregate tonnage- of 489,-890, of which 1,104 were steamers.
The entrances at the various ports in 1872 were 56,974 vessels, tonnage 4,613,228; clearances, 55,083, tonnage 4,611,598. - Until 1855 the Royal bank at Berlin (which had been transformed into a joint stock bank in 1846) was the only bank of issue. In December, 1873, the number of banks of issue was 12. The circulation of the Royal bank, which until 1850 had not exceeded $15,000,000, rose to $50,000,000 in 1857, and in December, 1873, amounted to $215,000,000. In all the principal cities there are branches of the Royal bank. The Frankfort bank, in Frank-fort-on-the-Main, had a circulation of about $10,000,000, and the Hanover bank of $2,800,-000; the note circulation of each of the other banks does not exceed $700,000. A peculiar moneyed institution of Prussia, first introduced by Frederick the Great, but since imitated in other countries, is the real estate bank (Hypothekenbank), originally intended to save the large landholders from the usurious practices of money lenders. These banks issue transferable mortgage bonds to the amount of one half or two thirds of the Value of landed estates, the bank or association of landholders guaranteeing the principal and interest to the holders of the bonds.
The aggregate amount of such bonds exceeds $330,000,000. The association of capital for commercial and industrial purposes, not including railways, turnpikes, or canals, has of late greatly increased. In December, 1872, the total number of companies was 1,041, of which 762 had been founded since June 11, 1870, the date of the promulgation of the new law on stock companies. Of the latter number 126 were banking, 28 insurance, 108 mining, 6 steamship, and 293 manufacturing companies. A large number of these companies disappeared again in consequence of the financial crisis of 1873-4. The savings banks of Prussia are municipal institutions, belonging to the towns (städtische Spar-banken) or to the circles (Kreissparbanken). The aggregate deposits in them amount to more than $113,000,000. - The system of public education in Prussia is one of the most thorough in the world. Instruction in the common branches is compulsory. It is difficult in Prussia to find adult persons unable to read. The number of common schools in 1873 was about 35,000, with over 3,700,000 pupils. The number of "middle schools," academies, apprentices' schools, Sunday schools, and industrial schools is very large, and increasing from year to year.
In 1873 there were 32 provincial technical schools (Gewerbeschulen). The middle schools embraced 218 Gymnasien (classical colleges), 3 Realgymnasien, 73 Progymnasien (preparatory colleges) and Latin schools, and 246 Realschulen and höhere Bürgerschulen, having together 120,000 pupils. There were nine universities, at Berlin, Königsberg, Halle, Breslau, Greifswald, Marburg, Göttingen, Bonn, and Kiel, with more than 800 teachers and 9,600 students; two Roman Catholic academies; and 128 normal schools, 94 for male and 34 for female teachers. Besides these there are numerous educational institutions for special branches of science, as theological seminaries connected with the universities and at the seats of the Roman Catholic bishops, a philosophical academy at Paderborn, a polytechnic institution and an academy of architecture at Berlin, polytechnic schools at Hanover and Aix-la-Chapelle, mining academies at Berlin and Clausthal, academies of veterinary surgery at Berlin and Hanover, academies of forest culture at Neustadt-Eberswalde and Münden, agricultural colleges at Eldena, Proskau, Pop-pelsdorf, and Göttingen-Weende, 34 agricultural schools, and a great number of private commercial academies. All educational institutions are controlled, more or less directly, by the government.
Even private teachers must submit to a thorough examination before they are permitted to open schools. The common schools are sustained and managed by the municipal corporations, but the teachers are appointed by government. Of charitable institutions, there are 18 deaf-mute asylums, 16 asylums for the blind, several orphan asylums and nurseries, Bible and missionary societies, etc. The highest branches of scientific culture are fostered by the royal academy of Berlin and numerous associations of scholars. There are large public libraries in all the principal cities; observatories and botanical gardens are connected with the universities; a zoological garden is kept near Berlin. The fine arts are taught by the royal academy of art at Berlin, the art academies of Düsseldorf, Königsberg, Hanau, and Cassel, and five art schools. The number of musical academies and musical societies is enormous. The press of Prussia is treated in the article Newspapers, vol. xii., p. 338. - The dominant religion in Prussia is the Protestant. The two principal Protestant denominations, the Lutheran and the Reformed or Calvinistic church, united in 1817, assuming the common designation of Evangelical church.
According to the census of 1871, there were in Prussia 16,041,215 Evangelical Christians, 8,268,309 Roman Catholics, 325,565 Jews, and 54,903 of smaller religious sects. Included in the latter number were 20,009 Lutheran dissenters, 14,052 Mennonites, 9,375 Baptists, 2,531 Free Religionists, 1,354 German Catholics, and 987 Free Congregationalists. The Old Catholics in 1874 numbered about 18,000. The Evangelical church constitutes a majority in the provinces of Schleswig-Holstein (99 per cent.), Pomerania (97), Brandenburg (95), Saxony (93), Hanover (87), Hesse-Nassau (70), and Prussia (70); the Roman Catholic church in Hohenzollern (96 per cent.), the Rhine province (73), Posen (64), Westphalia (53), and Silesia (51). The Evangelical church is governed by the supreme ecclesiastical council at Berlin (established in 1850) in all spiritual matters, and by the ministry of public worship in temporal affairs. Each province has a consistory and a superintendent general, and is divided into dioceses, at the head of which stand superintendents.
The Roman Catholic church has 2 archbishoprics (Gnesen-Posen and Cologne) and 10 bishoprics (Culm, Ermeland, Breslau, Münster, Paderborn, Treves, Osna-brück, Hildesheim, Fulda, and Limburg). Of the Jews fully one half live in the eastern (formerly Polish) provinces. The members of all churches recognized by government enjoy equal civil rights. The Old Catholics have been recognized by the government as a part of the Catholic church, and the bishop elected by them as a bishop of the Catholic church. Other denominations (Baptists, Methodists, German Catholics, and Free Congregationalists) are barely tolerated, though the constitution guarantees full religious liberty. - Prussia is a hereditary constitutional monarchy. The constitution was promulgated Jan. 31, 1850, but has since received various modifications, the last, in reference to the ecclesiastical provisions, in May, 1875. In the territories annexed in 1866, the Prussian constitution was introduced on Oct. 1, 1867. It guarantees to all citizens equality in civil rights, the right of habeas corpus, religious liberty, freedom of the press, etc. The king is the chief executive, clothed with all prerogatives of monarchical power.
He administers the government by the advice of nine responsible ministers, viz.: of the royal household, of foreign affairs, of finances, of public worship, education, and health, of commerce, industry, and public works, of the interior, of justice, of war, and of agriculture. The legislature (Landtag) consists of a house of lords (Herrenhaus) and a house of deputies (Abgeordnetenhaus). The former embraces: 1, all princes of royal blood, including the princes of the formerly sovereign houses of Hohenzollern-Hechingen and Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen; 2, the chiefs of the mediatized princely houses, recognized by the congress of Vienna, to the number of 16 in Prussia; 3, the heads of the territorial nobility, numbering about 50 members; 4, eight titled noblemen, elected in the eight old provinces by the resident landowners; 5, the representatives of the universities, the heads of the chapters, and the burgomasters of towns with more than 50,000 inhabitants; 6, an unlimited number of members appointed by the king for life or for a restricted period. The chamber of deputies consists of 432 members, 352 for the old provinces, and the remainder for the new territories annexed in 1866. The deputies are elected by indirect universal suffrage for a term of three years.
The king has an absolute veto power. At the head of the political administration of each of the 11 provinces stands an Oberpräsi-dent (chief president). The provinces are divided into administrative districts called Regie-rungsbezirke, except in the province of Hanover, where the former division into Land-drosteien is retained. At the head of each Regierungsbezirk stands a Regierungspräsi-dent, at the head of a Landdrostei a Land-drost. The number of administrative districts is 34, besides the city of Berlin and Hohenzollern, each of which forms a separate district. The districts are divided into Kreise or circles, except Hohenzollern, which is divided into four Oberamtsbezirke. At the head of a circle in all the old and some of the new provinces is a Landrath; in parts of the new territories, the former titles of the heads of subdivisions, like Kreishauptmann and Amts-hauptmann, have been retained. Provincial assemblies exist, but their powers are only advisory. They cannot originate any measures, and must not even advise the government upon any subject unless called upon to do so. Their principal duty is to apportion the taxes to be levied from the provinces. The police throughout the kingdom is administered by the government.
The administration of justice has been completely reorganized since 1848. Publicity of judicial proceedings, trial by jury, and a new criminal code have been introduced, and all exceptional jurisdiction has been abolished. In Rhenish Prussia the code Napoléon and the French legal procedure, which were introduced under the rule of Napoleon, have been maintained. In the other provinces there are city or district courts, and 26 courts of appeal. The chief tribunal at Berlin is the court of last resort for all parts of the kingdom. - Financially Prussia is in a flourishing condition, and its financial administration is excellent. The annexation of large territories in 1866 and the establishment of the German empire under the Prussian dynasty in 1871, to whose budget some of the revenues as well as the expenditures of Prussia were transferred, render a comparison of the Prussian budgets of the years before 1867 with those of the following years of little value. The estimates of public revenue and expenditure submitted by the government to the chambers are always prepared to show an even balance; but in recent years the actual revenue has always largely exceeded the estimate, and shown even in years of war a constant and increasing surplus.
In the budgets of 1868 to 1874, revenue and expenditures were each estimated at the following amounts: 1868, $115,000,000; 1869, $120,600,000; 1870, $121,200,000; 1871, $124,500,000; 1872, $134,600,000; 1873, $151,-200,000; 1874, $167,500,000. The actual surplus amounted in 1870 to $6,700,000, in 1871 to $7,200,000, and in 1872 to $8,900,000. Of late the income from railways and other state undertakings, such as mines, has been largely increasing, showing a tendency to become in the course of time larger than that from taxation, direct or indirect. In the estimates for 1874, the revenue of the ministry of commerce, chiefly from the railways and mines, was more than two fifths of the entire government receipts. The exemption of a large number of landed proprietors (noblemen) from taxation on real estate was abolished in 1861, but the actual payment of taxes by them did not begin till 1865. The public debt of Prussia, which in 1787 was only $32,250,000, amounted in 1820 to $152,491,000. In 1847 it had been reduced to $98,000,000, but in 1862 it again amounted to $175,700,000. On the annexation of Schleswig-Holstein, Hanover, Hesse-Cassel, Nassau, and Frankfort to Prussia, it was arranged that the incorporation of the debts of these states with that of Prussia should take place at some future period.
This had not yet been done in 1874. The aggregate debt of the entire monarchy in that year amounted to $259,400,000, of which $107,900,000 was railway debt. The interest on the latter debt is paid out of the profits of the state lines, the yearly increasing dividends of which likewise create a sinking fund for the gradual extinction of the debt. - The Prussian military system, so elaborate and thorough that it has been chiefly instrumental in giving the state its present leadership among European countries, was in 1871 extended to the whole empire, and the Prussian became a part of the imperial army. The navy of Prussia has in the same way become the chief part of the imperial naval force. (See Germany, vol. vii., pp. 750, 751).
The country which gave its name to the kingdom of Prussia, of which it is now only a province, was in antiquity probably known to the Phoenicians, who either in their ships or through trading posts procured amber from its Baltic shores. The aborigines, a Lettic tribe kindred to the Lithuanians, appear to have been peaceable and quiet, and acquainted with agriculture. During the first centuries of the Christian era they became dependent upon the Goths, who overran their country. In the 10th century they are first mentioned under the name of Borussi or Porussi. Their religion was polytheism, and human sacrifices were not uncommon. Bishop Adalbert, who attempted to convert them to Christianity, was slain by them while hewing down their sacred oak tree, in A. D. 997. Boleslas I. of Poland invaded their country and compelled them to profess the Christian faith in 1015, but neither he nor his immediate successors could retain a hold upon them. A large army which Boleslas IV. led against them was totally annihilated, and the Prussians even held a part of Poland in subjection for some time. In 1219 they repelled a crusade sent against them from Germany, and soon became the terror of all neighboring countries.
The Teutonic knights finally conquered Prussia (1230-83), founded cities, introduced German colonists and German laws, and by their firm rule made Prussia one of the most flourishing countries of its time. (See Teutonic Knights.) But about the middle of the 15th century the demoralization of the knights, their continual wars with Poland and Lithuania, and their reckless exactions created a powerful opposition. The nobility and the municipalities obtained the assistance of the king of Poland, Casimir IV., and by a war of 12 years' duration (1454-'66) compelled the order to cede western Prussia and Ermeland to Poland. The remainder was left to them as a fief of Poland. In 1511 the margrave Albert of Brandenburg was elected grand master of the order. Having vainly striven to throw off the Polish rule, he turned Protestant, and in 1525 accepted Prussia as a duchy from Poland. His son Albert Frederick becoming insane, the duchy was governed by his relatives, of whom John Sigismund, elector of Brandenburg, inherited it in 1618. He was a descendant of Frederick of Hohenzollern, burgrave of Nuremberg, who had become possessor of Brandenburg in 1415 by foreclosure of mortgage. (See Brandenburg, and Hohenzollern.) The electorate of Brandenburg, not Prussia proper, must be considered the nucleus of the present monarchy of that name.
The electorate, though frequently divided by the descendants of Frederick, played a conspicuous part in the history of Germany, especially during the reformation. Frederick I. (1415-'40) subdued the robber knights, and obtained some additional territory from Pomerania and Mecklenburg, but succumbed to the Hussites, who devastated his country with fire and sword in 1432. Frederick II. (1440-'70) enlarged his possessions by purchases from neighboring states, but was unfortunate in his attempts to conquer Lusatia from Bohemia and Stettin from Pomerania. Albert Achilles (1470-86) and John Cicero (1486-99) contended energetically against the usurpations of the lords, and promoted industry, commerce, and science. The two younger brothers of the latter received the Franconian possessions of their father, and founded the two branch lines of the house of Brandenburg, Anspach and Baireuth. Joachim I. Nestor (1499-1535) was noted as a scholar, and also as one of the most violent opponents of the reformation, and a persecutor of the Jews, of whom he had many burned at the stake or exiled.
Joachim II. Hector (1535-71) became a Protestant, secularized the bishoprics of Brandenburg, Havelberg, and Lebus, founded many educational or charitable institutions with the proceeds of the church property, and concluded a treaty of mutual inheritance with the duke of Liegnitz in Silesia, which two centuries later became the foundation of the Prussian claims on Silesia. John George I. (1571-98) expelled the Jews who had been readmitted by his predecessor, but invited the exiled Protestants from the Netherlands into his country, and by wise economy greatly improved the financial condition of his state. Joachim Frederick (1598-1608) acquired by marriage a claim on the duchy of Prussia, which his son John Sigismund (1608-19) permanently united to the electorate of Brandenburg, having previously, after the death of the duke of Julich, acquired Cleves and other possessions. Under the reign of George William (1619-40), Brandenburg and Prussia suffered terribly from the thirty years' war. Having adopted a policy of neutrality, the elector was looked upon as an enemy by both contending parties.
Prussia was ravaged by Swedes and Poles, Brandenburg by the imperial armies and those of the league, and during 12 years by the Swedes. From the lowest depth of misery and desolation the country was raised by the energy and wisdom of Frederick William, the Great Elector (1640-'88). By marking out a vigorous and independent policy against France, Sweden, and Poland, and shrewdly taking advantage of dissensions among his enemies, he enlarged his dominions and obtained a position but little below that of the great powers of Europe. Of Prussia he made a sovereign duchy, severing its connection with Poland. At his death his possessions had increased to 42,000 sq. m. with 1,500,000 inhabitants. His son Frederick, the third elector of that name (1688-1713), by consent of the German emperor, assumed the title of king of Prussia, and was crowned as such Jan. 18, 1701. He acquired a few small territories, the principality of Neufchâtel in Switzerland among the rest. His son Frederick William I. (1713-'40) acquired from Sweden a part of Pomerania, with Stettin, increasing the area of the country to 48,000 sq. m.
He left to his son Frederick II., the Great (1740-'86), $6,000,000 over and above all debts, and an army of 70,000 men, the best disciplined in all Europe. With these means Frederick began a war of conquest, and wrested Silesia from Austria. By a wise and prudent administration he strengthened and consolidated his kingdom, and elevated it to the rank of a great power by successfully resisting during a sanguinary war of seven years' duration (1756-'63) the combined aggressions of Austria, France, and Russia. In 1772 he took part in the first partition of Poland. To his successor he left a treasure of $50,000,000, an army of 220,000 men, and a territory of 77,000 sq. m. On his accession he had 2,240,000 subjects, and at his death the number exceeded 6,000,000. Frederick William II. (1786-'97), though his reign was weak, harmful, and occupied by imprudent and unsuccessful wars in alliance with Austria against revolutionary France, failed to destroy the prestige of Prussia, and by participating in the second and third partitions of Poland added to his possessions 40,000 sq. m.
Frederick William III. (1797-1840), by a weak and vacillating policy, isolated Prussia and encountered the wrath of Napoleon, who, after the ignominious defeat of the Prussian armies at Jena in 1806, reduced the kingdom to less than half its former area. For six years Prussia was cruelly oppressed by Napoleon, who did his utmost to reduce the kingdom to insignificance. But during this period the statesmen of Prussia laid the foundation of its subsequent greatness by unfettering labor and commerce, by granting municipal self-government, and basing the military power of the state upon the people. After the downfall of Napoleon most of its former possessions were restored to Prussia, and in addition to them it acquired parts of the kingdom of Saxony and of Pomerania, Berg, Julich, and several valuable territories on the Rhine. The promise of a liberal constitution, given by the king to his people, was not kept. The political condition settled down into a sort of patriarchal despotism. The establishment of the Zollverein was the only wise and statesmanlike measure during 25 years of peace.
Frederick William IV. (1840-'61), who had great natural talents and scholarship, but was weak and pusillanimous, destroyed almost totally the moral prestige of Prussia, and threw away the opportunity, offered to him by the revolution of 1848, of becoming the head of a united German nation. For nearly 10 years under his reign the reactionary party held almost absolute sway, though the state had been converted into a constitutional monarchy. In 1857 his mental faculties gave way, and his brother William was intrusted with the regency. Frederick William died Jan. 2, 1861, and was succeeded by the regent as William I. The accession of the new king, whose career had already shown him to be heartily devoted to the long cherished plan of securing complete Prussian leadership in Germany, found the country in the very height of jealous dissensions with Austria, which had become particularly prominent after the peace of Villa-franca between Austria and France (1859). The acts which this mutual jealousy inspired, and by which every possible factor was brought into the struggle for control, are described at length in the article Germany. Tor several years there was no open rupture; it was only with the entrance of Bismarck into the Prussian cabinet as minister of foreign affairs, in 1862, and the uncompromising attitude then assumed in certain questions of German politics, that the breach seemed to become irreparable; and no sooner had it been thus widened than the Schleswig-Holstein complication (see Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Schleswig-Holstein) arose to present a possible and plausible casus belli.
In spite of many attempts at mediation, the attitude of the great powers became more and more hostile, and after several arbitrary acts on both sides, the convention of Gastein, which gave the occupation of Holstein to Austria and that of Schleswig to Prussia, but which it seemed evident neither power would long adhere to, placed affairs in precisely the position where another step on either side must mean war. The convention was signed on Aug. 14, 1865; but as early as January, 1866, the conduct of the officials in the duchies gave cause for a new quarrel. In April Prussia made an alliance with Italy, and began to arm. The smaller states of Germany generally sided with Austria. On June 1 Austria arbitrarily took the question of the Danish duchies out of the limits of the Gastein agreement, by suddenly declaring it to be referred to the federal diet; and Prussia, regarding this as a breach of treaty, marched its troops into Holstein, and proposed to restore the joint occupation of both duchies. Austria declared this act to be a violation of the federal constitution, and the federal diet, acting entirely under its leadership, ordered (June 14) the mobilization of all the federal troops except those of Prussia. On June 15 Prussia summoned Hanover, Saxony, and Hesse-Cassel to retract their action at the diet; they refused, and on the next day Prussian troops occupied their territory, and war was begun.
The conflict which followed was a remarkable proof of the condition of preparation in which the Prussian state had placed itself; and under the name of the "seven weeks' war" it has become famous as one of the shortest but most decisive struggles in history. On June 22 and 23 the three divisions of the Prussian main army advanced toward the frontiers of Bohemia from two directions - in Silesia under the command of the Prussian crown prince, in Saxony under that of Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia and Gen. Herwarth von Bittenfeld. From the 26th to the 29th various minor engagements took place along the lines, at Podol, Hühnerwasser, Münchengrätz, Gitschin, Trau-tenau, Nachod, Königinhof, etc. In the mean while, on the 28th, the Hanoverian army, cut off from reënforcements or means of retreat by the Prussian forces about it, had surrendered at Langensalza. On July 1 the Prussian armies were united near Königgrätz; and on the 3d they encountered at Sadowa, near by, the main Austrian army under Benedek, and achieved the decisive victory of the war. (See Sadowa.) The armies of Austria at once retreated to the south, and the northern provinces were left in the power of the enemy.
While these things were in progress, a simultaneous campaign was carried on by Prussia in western Germany, but with far less bloodshed; an army under Gen. Vogel von Falkenstein had opposed the Bavarians and the army of the smaller states, forced them to retreat after a battle near Kissingen on July 10, met an Austrian division near-Aschaffenburg on the 14th, and entered Frankfort on the 16th. Another portion of the "army of the Main," under Gen. Manteuffel, met the 7th and 8th corps of the federal army, July 24-27, at Tauberbischofs-heim, Helmstadt, and Wüirzburg, and won minor victories. On the 26th preliminary negotiations for peace were begun at Nikolsburg, and a truce with Austria was declared; this was followed by truces with Bavaria, Hesse-Darmstadt, Würtemberg, and Baden (Aug. 1-3). Definite treaties of peace followed with Würtemberg (Aug. 13), Baden (Aug. 17), Bavaria (Aug. 22), and Austria (the peace of Prague, Aug. 23). The "seven weeks' war," and the treaty which ended it, placed Prussia at the head of Germany, and marked it as one of the first military powers of Europe. The treaty of Prague virtually established a new federation of German states, soon definitely formed (Aug. 18 to Oct. 21) into the "North German Confederation" (Norddeutscher Bund), including all the states north of the Main. It shut out Austria from Germany, and left the South German states to take their own course as to the establishment of a Bund between themselves.
But Prussia gained an aggrandizement of territory as well as of prestige; for it annexed Schleswig-Holstein, Hanover, Hesse-Cassel, Nassau, and Frankfort, and thus not only extended its boundaries, but removed the principal obstacles to its territorial unity. ' The chief measures of Prussian politics from the close of the war of 1866 till 1870 are again treated in the article Germany. The minor measures of its politics during this period comprised treaties on points of administration, posts, military affairs, etc., with the other states, and regulation of its own educational, industrial, and financial affairs. The part of Prussia in the Franco-German war of 1870-'71 (see France, and Germany) is inextricably involved with that of the whole German nation. The conflict served to precipitate the solution of the question which had always been the aim of the king and Bismarck: German unity under Prussian leadership. On Jan. 18, 1871, King William was crowned at Versailles as emperor of Germany, and on March 21 the first German Reichstag assembled at Berlin. From 1871 to 1874 Prussia had undertaken no important measures independently of the rest of Germany, and its most recent history is therefore contained in the article on the empire. (See also William I., of Prussia and Germany, and for fuller accounts on previous periods of Prussian history the notices on the principal monarchs under the head of Frederick).