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The Kingdom of Prussia, also known as Prussia, was a nation composed of the royal territories of the Hohenzollern family, who took the small duchy, primarily a Eastern Territory bordering the Baltic, and turned into a power broker, and one of the great powers of Europe by the mid-1700's, with a powerful army and efficient civil service, exemplified by Frederich the Great's masterfull handling during the War of Austrian Succession and multiple other conflicts that virtually doubled the nations size. By 1800, the kingdom had expanded to included territories in western Europe, and was one of the leading powers in Europe. However, a series of defeats by Napoleon and France in the brief Rhineland Conflict caused much damage and forced politicians to implement reforms for both the government and the military.
Although defeated again in 1831 in the Prussian Expansion War, Prussia was able to continue growing in power until she was able to at last defeat her long time enemy France in the Second Great European War, and Prussia merged with the Confederation of the Rhine to become Germany
Napoleonic Wars and Reform
While aloof during most of the First Great European War that tore through the continent in the early 1800's, Prussia declared war on France over the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine, which presented Prussia with a unified body in Western Germany, and not a series of independent fiefdoms. However, the destruction of the Prussian armies under Emperor Napoleon forced King Frederick Wilhelm III to accept the new state, and forced him to modernize the nation in order to stand up to the power of France, as shown in the Rhineland Conflict.
Under the "Five Old Men" the reformers Heinrich Friedrich Karl vom und zum Stein, Karl August von Hardenberg, General's Gerhard von Scharnhorst, August Neidhardt von Gneisenau and Hermann von Boyen, Prussia shackled off the outdated military of Frederick the Great, and universal conscription on the French model, as well as new techniques and promotions based on merit and not on connections or birth were all instituted. On top of this, a "Reichstag" was formed, composed of members elected by men of the state. Despite the conservative and reactionary backlash against these efforts cultimating in the Prussian Coup of 1811, they were pushed through by a reluctant Frederick Wilhelm III.
Prussian Expansion War
By the early 1820's, Prussia was again feeling strong enough to try to challenge Napoleon. A series of crisis throughout the 1820's and into 1830 nearly brought the two to blows, but it wasn't until 1831 and the death of Napoleon I and the accension of his son Napoleon II did the war break out. Allied with the United Kingdom and Sweden, Prussia developed Operation Westschlag to quickly defeat Poland and Austria-Hungary, and then focus on France.
However, the plan was too ambitious, and despite securing Poland, the invasions failed. Russia joined the war and marched on undefended Königsberg, as well as defeating an unprepared German army in Poland. In the west, tied down in Bohemia by Italian and Austrian troops, a sudden strike from the Confederation of the Rhone decimated the Prussian armies there. Prussia was then forced to sue for peace.
As part of the peace agreement, Prussia had to give up the small North Sea coast it owned around the city of Kiel, and hand over land to Austria, Poland and Russia. As well, King Fredrick Wilhelm III was forced into exile first in Ottoman Turkey, and then in Switzerland. His son, Frederick Wilhelm IV however presided over yet another reformation of the Prussian military and government, and embraced German nationalism as a way to at last unite with the Confederation of the Rhine.
Second Great European War
In the years after the failed Prussian Expansion War and the start of the Second Great European War, Prussia underwent a dramatic change. Industry began to spring up, especially in Silesia, and under the leadership of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck Prussia began to maneuver its way to a position of strength against France, allied with Great Britain, the Ottoman Empire, Austria-Hungary and Spain. Although a bloody four year war, the Second Great European War (which is considered to one part of the First Global War}} lead to German triumph and a unification with the Confederation of the Rhine, as well as the retaking of lands given to Poland and Russia.
At this point, Bismarck pushed his big plan, and established a German Empire with King Wilhelm I (as his father, Frederick Wilhelm IV died the year before the war was over) named as Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany.
Prussia as Part of the German Empire
Under the Empire, Prussia became the largest province of the new state, and Wilhelm I was still King of Prussia. Bismarck was transferred to the new Imperial Chancellery, but still held the title of Prussian Chancellor as well. As Prussia comprised over 3/5ths of the new Empire and over half its population, it maintained a grip over the other parts of the country, which was reorganized into states that were directly answerable to the Empire, which in definition was also Prussia. However, Prussia still maintained the Reichstag established by the reformers after the Rhineland Conflict, which meant having to pass laws through two separate systems of government.
Industrialization continued quickly, centered on the Rhine River, which quickly made the new Germany the most powerful nation in Europe. Railroads were nationalized in 1886 under the powerful Kaiserliche Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft (KEG), often called the "Reichsbahn", which was a state company with close ties to the military. This reduced freight costs for goods being shipped from factories to markets, and spurred on industrial development.
After the 100 day reign of Kaiser Frederick III in 1888, his young son Wilhelm II came to the throne. Bismarck was soon dismissed, and the alliances that Germany had made began to fall apart, although a slow rapprochement with England began at this same time. By the Early 1900s, partially through the unguided and confusing foreign policy of Wilhelm II, most of Europe was on the brink of war. The assassination of the Turkish Prime Minister in Sarejevo provided the excuse for battle.
The Second Global War and After
During the Second Global War, the place of Prussia was slowly undermined in favor of the Imperial Government, exemplified in the 1914 declaration that the position of Chancellor was no longer a dual office, and eventually by 1916 the post of Prussian Chancellor was abolished. The Prussian Reichstag was merged into the Imperial Landtag. However, the powerful Prussian Military still remained under Prussian nominal control, although by the end of the war it was Imperial in all but name.
The defeat of Germany in 1916 lead to much land being stripped away and given to Poland and France. The declaration of the German Republic in 1917 ended the last traces of Prussian dominance over a unified Germany, when the new constitution outlined that all federal departments were, indeed, to be under federal control. In the aftermath of the Third Global War some areas that had been historically Prussia where merged into a French Imperial puppet state, the Protectorate of Prussia.