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Frederick IV, German Emperor (In Frederick's Fields)

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Friedrich IV and III of Germany
Kaiser of Germany and King of Prussia
Frederick III 1.jpg
Kaiser of Germany
Reign June 2, 1878 - 1900?
Investiture June 2, 1878
Predecessor Wilhelm I
Successor Heinrich VIII & I
King of Prussia
Reign June 2, 1878 - 1900?
Investiture June 2, 1878
Predecessor Wilhelm I
Successor Heinrich VIII & I
King of Westphalia
Reign June 15, 1895 - 1900?
Predecessor Jerôme Bonaparte (before Treaty of Vienna)
Successor Waldemar, Prince of Prussia
Co-Consort Empress Victoria of Germany
Issue
Detail
Prince Wilhelm of Prussia
Heinrich VIII & I of Germany
Waldemar, Prince of Prussia
Full name
Friedrich Wilhelm Nikolaus Karl von Hohenzollern
Royal House House of Hohenzollern-Prussia
Father Wilhelm I of Germany
Mother Augusta of Saxe-Weimar
Born 18 October, 1831
Flag of Prussia 1892-1918 Potsdam, Kingdom of Prussia
Died circa 1900?
Flag of the German Empire Berlin, German Empire
Religion Evangelical Christian Church
Occupation Historian, Lawyer, Governor (University of Bonn)

Frederick IV and I, Emperor of Germany (1831-1900? born Friedrich Wilhelm Nikolaus Karl von Hohenzollern) was German Emperor and King of Prussia (as well as, eventually, King of Westphalia) between his father's (William I, German Emperor) death in June 2, 1878, and his own death. Known informally as Fritz, Frederick IV was the only son of Wilhelm I and was raised as the heir from an early age. However, he did not inherit his father's conservative policies; instead, he developed pro-British, Liberal sentiment through his tutors.

Frederick was an extremely influential personality in the German Empire of the late XIX century, as he was the leading force of German liberalism during the Age of Reforms and the Sweeping Declarations. He and his liberal advisors arranged for the destruction of the Bismarckian web of alliances, making the nation grow closer to the United Kingdom and Russia (becoming close friends after his succession with Liberal leaders HH Asquith and William Gladstone in Great Britain, and with his cousin Alexander II in Russia]], rather than the previous Austro-Hungarian alliance that had characterised post-unification Germany. He also was the birth of the modern German liberal state, based on the principles of individual protection and collective freedom.

Frederick IV and I was the main reformer of the German constitution, was vital in the liberal-socialist projects regarding the defeat of the junker elites in Prussia and Saxony, and the weakening of the Kingdom of Prussia. Under his direct declarations was the executive of the German Empire heavily weakened, replaced by a British-style legislative government, with large power towards the Reichstag and the Cabinet it elects (however, these events did not properly happen until the 1907 election, during Heinrich VIII's reign). Under Frederick's reign, the SDP and the liberal parties in Parliament grew to extreme prominence, and began developing their modern ideological platforms. 


Biography

Early Life

Friedrich Wilhelm Nikolaus Karl von Hohenzollern was born in the New Palace in Potsden, in the Kingdom of Prussia, on October 18 of 1831. Frederick's father, Wilhelm, Prince of Prussia, was a younger brother of the ruling King in Prussia, Frederick William IV. Wilhelm had fallen in love with his cousin, the Polish princess Eliza Radziwill, but they were not allowed to marry, as the Prussian nobility believed Radziwill's social status as a Pole and an aristocrat was too low to marry the heir to the German Empire. Instead, Wilhelm married Princess Augusta of Saxe-Weimar, with whom he had Frederick.

However, Wilhelm and Augusta never loved each other. Augusta was extremely liberal, famously so in the German society of the time. As a princess of the very liberal kingdom of Saxe-Weimar, and as part of the British-influenced House of Wettin, she had very liberal ideas, which she inherited to her son. However, Frederick resented both parents for a long time, given that the constant fights between the two gave him the memories of a lonely and unhappy childhood.

Due to Queen Augusta's ideologies, Frederick was not given only the customary military education given to the Princes of Prussia. He also got a classical education, tutored by Ernst Curtius, a world-renowned archaeologist. Frederick was an intelligent and precocious scholar, becoming fluent in English and French and studying Latin, as well as being skilled in history, geography, politics, physics, music, religion and sports. He studied at the University of Bonn, far from the Prussian court and the junkers, something which was vital for the development of his liberalism.


Crown Prince of Germany

Frederick became Crown Prince of Germany in 1861, after his father's succession to the throne. While his father soon showed his conservative tendencies when opposing the decisions of the Reichstag, Frederick declared himself completely in favour of "essential liberal policies in internal and foreign affairs". In 1862, the Reichstag almost convinced William to abdicate out of anger, before being convinced to return to power by Frederick. However, this led to be a problem in future relationships between father and son, given that, to check the power of the Reichstag, Wilhelm appointed Otto von Bismarck, a conservative authoritarian who often ignored the power of the legislature. While Frederick insisted on peaceful unification, Bismarck imposed his "blood and iron" policies, and eventually led Germany in a direction completely different from what Frederick wanted. Frederick, a pacifist, was forced to fight in wars against Denmark, France, and Austria, and was severely reprimanded several times due to his ideals. This severely depressed Frederick, making him think of suicide and having him visit Britain, where he was allowed far more freedoms by his mother-in-law Queen Victoria. There he gained wide repute amongst both liberals and conservatives as a gentleman who had always behaved perfectly well in war. The Times congratulated Frederick in 1871.

Germany's liberal and socialist bodies hoped for Wilhelm to die quickly in order to Frederick to come on to power, and enact sweeping liberal reforms. However, between 1871 and 1878, this seemed to have no hope, as Wilhelm, despite his advanced age, showed no signs of weakening or growing ill, either physically or mentally. By 1878, the extreme part of these liberals decided they could not wait enough. In May, a first assassination attack failed against Wilhelm; the next month, however, an assassination is successful, and Wilhelm is killed.

Emperor of Germany

Problems with Bismarck

Frederick's early years of government are characterised by the constant fighting between the Emperor himself (supported by the Reichstag) and the Chancellor and his cabinet which Wilhelm had created. This started as soon as the day of the death of Wilhelm, where Frederick decided to take the regnal name of Frederick IV, implying a continuation between the Holy Roman Empire and the German Empire. However, von Bismarck opposed this movement, stating that it might cause large amounts of problems with international law. Despite complaints, Frederick went ahead and adopted Friedrich IV as his official regnal name. This can be seen as the first event of conflict between the Emperor and the Chancellor, something that would be seen until von Bismarck's dismissal in 1880.

Fights with the Bismarckian traditional administration continued throughout the period; however, the Reichstag completely sided with Frederick at all points after the possession of the German parliament after its election in 1879, in which, despite the mild overrepresentation of constitutencies that started to be seen throughout the period, the NLP (about two-thirds of the left-of-centre political parties) tied with the Zentrumspartei, which was, at the election, anti-Bismarckist; these two arranged a moderately loose coalition with the remaining liberal parties (the first in the history of Germany), forcing the Conservative parties into opposition. This anti-Kulturkampf, anti-Conservative alliance of Catholics and liberals (dubbed the Alliance of All Demons by the KP and DRP) allied with the Kaiser against Bismarck. While drawing the line at the welfare state, which both the NLP and the incipient SDP wanted to keep, this coalition agreed on an almost complete restructuring of the German system, given that they entirely opposed the protectionism and cultural conservatism that the Bismarckian era was famous for. 

Voting for a new constitution began to gather support starting in 1879. It is in this period that the socially liberal movement began to pick up, with moderate reformist legislature beginning to pass in this year. The most scandalous law that was passed by the Alliance in 1879 was the lifting of restrictions created by the Kulturkampf on Poles. Polish was once again allowed to be taught in some public schools in the main rural areas of the Province of Posen, as well as in Posen itself. The Poles' right to property was reinvicated and the Germanisation policies of immigration and deportation were stopped (or at least their government support was). 

This bill, officially the Repeal of Acts against the Polish Injustice and generally called by many "the Sweeping Repeal" was met with livid outrage by the conservative bloc on the Reichstag. The KP left a meeting by the Reichstag in protest in October 18, the Emperor's birthday. Relations also deteriorated personally between von Bismarck, the head of German conservatism, and Frederick, the head of liberalism. In April 15, 1880, the two got into a fight in the Reichstag; von Bismark called Frederick "an Anarchist, a Catholic, and the biggest thrice-accursed fool I have ever seen". This led to open feud between the two men. Bismarck attempted to block several resolutions with extraordinary ministerial powers. This led to Frederick growing sick of Bismarck's meddling, and in June 5, he dismissed him, effective immediately. While this brought outrage by the Conservative elements of the Reichstag, nothing could be done, as Eugen Richter is chosen new Chancellor by Frederick and agreed upon by the majority of the Reichstag. 

Political Deadlock

Elections occured in 1881. These elections, while not groundbreaking, were important as they would allow the continuation of the Alliance of All Demons through another electoral term. However, this second term in the alliance was riddled with far more infighting and confusion than the first one. With Bismarck gone, all incentive for unity for anti-Kulturkampf policies seemed sort of moot; the Sweeping Legislations were to (mostly) receive common support throughout all sides of Parliament but no longer did Zentrum and the NLP agree on a common policy. The Alliance's relations further worsened, as the liberal parties were caught in coalition deals with each other and, more infamously, the extremist SDP. This would worsen relations with the moderate Zentrum, which found socialism a scourge. This did not truly impact the coalition through 1881 and 1882, but by 1883 big rifts had already appeared. One piece of legislation, which reduced the power of religion of all denominations in German administration, was vetoed by both the Conservatives and Zentrum, which caused the first of the periods of political deadlock in the Reichstag. Despite lobbying by several liberals, including British diplomats and Frederick IV himself, little legislation passed through parliamentary periods in 1883, instead being limited to minor legislative decisions. For another year was this deadlock imposed on political decisions in Germany. No new changes could be spend and it could be seen from economic statistics that the nation was suffering as a consequence. Industrial output was low, discontent was high, and it became rather clear that political decisions were necessary rather soon for the Period of Reforms to continue and Germany to be placed back on track. Through this time, the Emperor and Eugen Richter twice met to discover a way to break the deadlock. The NLP was forced to accept some pieces of legislature by Zentrum, yet still the deadlock continued. 

1884, an election year, was received with much relief by everyone on the nation. The deadlock had lasted for strong enough, and, had election year not been so close, Frederick IV admitted he would've disbanded Parliament and called snap elections. With the alliance between Zentrum and the Liberals in tatters, new possible coalition partners were looked by an ever stronger NLP-DFP-LV alliance. Talks included the majority being seized by either a Zentrum-DRP-KP pan-right coalition or a Liberal-DvP-SDP pan-left one. Both coalitions seemed unlikely, given that in both sides, the parties did not like each other; however, coalition talks continued throughout the year. By October, it seemed that once the elections were held a hung parliament would re-emerge, given that talks had seemed to fail.

The results to the elections were a surprise for the right sector of the nation. The SDP made quick gains in both rural areas and poor urban ones, with their emphasis on worker's rights being popular amongst these people. About 13% of the electorate agreed to vote for the SDP. Added to this was the approximate 45% of the vote awarded to the three allied Liberal parties, and about 5% to the extreme liberal DvP. The alliance of these parties, the People's Alliance (officially, or the Alliance of Rabble-Rousers according to its detractors) would get the majority in the Reichstag, much to the glee of the Emperor and the terror of the conservative elements of government. The deadlock, at last, was over.


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