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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 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 Hohenzollern 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 shrank 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 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 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 it 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 Brandenburg.—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 EstabMark of Saxony, corresponding roughly to the northern lishment
part of the present province of Saxony, to the west of the
Elbe, was established by the emperor Henry I. about the M.
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 carried his arms to the banks of the Oder. His son Otho I. (936973) 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 Albert emperor Lothair rewarded the services of Albert the the Bear.
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, Ruppim, the Havelland, and the Zauche. He also shifted the centre of power to the marshy district last-mentioned 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 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 Christ. ianity was firmly established among the conquered and
Germanized Slavs. Albert's descendants, generally known Ascanian as the Ascanian line from the Latinized form of the name line.
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
lividing the territory among the various scions of the gning house, the Mark grew steadily in size and importe. Before the end of the 12th century the margrave was ated arch-chamberlain of the German empire, an office t eventually brought in its train the privilege of belong
to the electoral college. Berlin became a fortified post the margraves in 1240 and soon began to take the place
ruler to checkmate any attempt on the part of the PolishLithuanian 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.
Brandenburg as the political centre of the margraviate. The Brandenburg to which Frederick succeeded was con-Internal der Waldemar, who succeeded in 1309, the scattered siderably smaller than it had been in the best days of the consessions of the house were again gathered into one hand. Ascanians, consisting merely of the Altmark, Priegnitz, o of s sway extended over the Altmark; Priegnitz, or the the Mittelmark, part of the Ukermark, and the territory of o ellormark; the Middle Mark, now extending to the Oder; Sternberg. Including his family possessions of Ansbach iiii to e lands of Krossen and Sternberg beyond the Oder; and Baireuth, he ruled over a territory of about 11,400 14th cen
e Ukermark, to the north ; Upper and Lower Lusatia; ld part of Pomerania, with a feudal superiority over the ost. No other German prince of the time had a more exensive territory or one less exposed to imperial interference. With Waldemar's death in 1319 the Ascanian line be. ame 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 wasted by intestine conflicts. In 1320 the emperor n 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 tem. promise of an annuity. The ambition of Charles was g directed towards the establishment of a great cast German o 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 emlarrassments 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 y most convenient to their own borders, and the final olution of the electorate seemed imminent. Jobst died * Mll; and Sigismund, who succeeded to the imperial * mainly through the help of Frederick VI, burgrave *Number, conferred the electorate of Brandenburg on
*supporter, partly ingratitude for services rendered | yasamortgage for money advanced. Sigismund
| *wrosby have recognized in Frederick the fitting
square miles in extent. The internal condition of Branden-"
burg 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 I}randenburg 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 lower 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
practically became municipal republics. Their strength.
however, was perhaps more usefully shown in their ability