Prussia (German: Preußen; Latin: Borussia, Prutenia; Latvian: Prūsija; Lithuanian: Prūsija; Polish: Prusy; Old Prussian: Prūsa; Danish: Prøjsen; Russian: Пру́ссия) was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history of Germany, with its capital in Berlin after 1451. By 1871, the smaller German city states were merged with Prussia, resulting in the creation of the German Empire. In November 1918 the royalty abdicated and the nobility lost most of its political power. Prussia was effectively abolished in 1932, and officially abolished in 1947.
The name Prussia derives from the Old Prussians. In the 13th century, "Old Prussia" was conquered by German crusaders, the Teutonic Knights. In 1308 Teutonic Knights conquered the formerly Polish region of Pomerelia with Gdańsk (Danzig). Their monastic state was mostly Germanized through immigration from central and western Germany and in the south it was Polonized by settlers from Masovia. After the Second Peace of Thorn of 1466, Prussia was split into the western Royal Prussia, a province of Poland, and the eastern part, since 1525 called Duchy of Prussia, a fief of the Crown of Poland up to 1657. The union of Brandenburg and the Duchy of Prussia in 1618 led to the proclamation of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1701.
Prussia achieved its greatest importance in the 18th and 19th centuries. During the 18th century, it became a great European power under the reign of Frederick the Great (1740–1786). During the 19th century, Chancellor Otto von Bismarck united the German principalities into a "Lesser Germany" which would exclude the Austrian Empire.
After 1810 Prussia dominated Germany politically, economically, and in population, and was the core of the unified North German Confederation formed in 1867, which became part of the German Empire or Deutsches Reich in 1871.
The term "Prussian" has often been used, especially outside of Germany, to emphasize the professionalism, aggressiveness, militarism, and conservatism of the Junker class of landed aristocrats in the East who dominated Prussia into the 20th century.
Famous quotes containing the word prussia:
“It is reported here that the King of Prussia has gone mad and has been locked up. There would be nothing bad about that: at least that might of his would no longer be a menace, and you could breathe freely for a while. I much prefer madmen who are locked up to those who are not.”
—Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl Chesterfield (16941773)
“Austria the shield and Prussia the sword! Too bad that they are attached to the wrong arm: The right one holds the defiantly glistening shield, and the left one is supposed to wield the sword.”
—Franz Grillparzer (17911872)