Biography of Prince von Otto Eduard Bismarck-Schonhausen


Bismarck (bis'-mark)-Schonhausen, Otto Eduard von, Prince. One of the greatest statesmen of the 19th century. Was born in Brandenburg in 1815. After studying law at the universities of Gottingen and Berlin, Bismarck-Schonhausen filled important diplomatic positions, and was nominated prime minister of Prussia in 1862. His reactionary policy gave great offense to, and provoked many collisions with, the Liberal Party; and before long, he dissolved the representative chamber and declared that the ministry would act independent of popular suffrage. Bismarck-Schonhausen instigated the war against Denmark in 1864, which resulted in the acquisition of the Schleswig-Holstein duchies by Prussia. The rivalry which had long existed between Austria and Prussia, as the leading German powers, was terminated by the latter kingdom seceding from the Bund in 1866, and forming an alliance with Italy against Austria. War was declared in June, and the result of a six weeks' campaign was the exclusion of Austria from German councils and interests. Bismarck-Schonhausen next set about annexing the smaller states of Hanover, Hesse, etc., and succeeded in negotiating a secret treaty in August, 1866, with south German powers, by virtue of which their armies were placed under control of the King of Prussia. In 1867, Bismarck-Schonhausen was made chancellor of the German Confederation and, in 1870, brought about a coalition of the German powers against France, in consequence of a declaration of war having been made by Napoleon III against Prussia, on account of her interference in the succession to the Spanish crown. The German armies crossed the Rhine in August and, after defeating the French in several obstinately fought battles, compelled the capitulation of the French Emperor with his army at Sedan, and ultimately besieged Paris, which city capitulated in the early part of 1871. For his services in the successful carrying out of this war, which resulted in the elevation of his master, William I, to the imperial crown of Germany, Bismarck-Schonhausen was created a prince of the empire in May, 1871. Died 1898.