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European Kingdoms

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Brandenburg

Brandenburg emerged initially as the North March (or Mark), situated between the Billungers March to the north (on the Baltic coast and extreme south-eastern Denmark), and the Lusatia March to the south. The duchy of Saxony bordered all the marches to the west, with Christian Poland in the east. The March counties were founded by German expansion eastwards and the initial reorganisation of conquered territory. In time they became formalised as margraviates.

Margraves of the North March
AD 936 - 1136

Brandenburg began as the North March, or border area, formed in AD 936, when the territory west of the Oder was incorporated into the March of the Billungs and the North March of the Holy Roman empire.

936 - 937

Sigfried

937 - 945

Christian

937 - 965

Gero

965 - 985

Dietrich

985 - 1003

Lothar

1003 - 1009

Werner

1009 - 1018

Bernard I

1018 - 1044

Bernard II

1044 - 1056

William

1056 - 1057

Lothar Udo I

1057 - 1082

Udo II

1082 - 1087

Henry I

1087 - 1106

Lothar Udo III

1106 - 1114

Rudolph

1114 - 1128

Henry II

1128 - 1130

Udo IV

1130 - 1133

Conrad Plotzkau

1134 - 1136

Albert I the Bear

First Ascanian. Duke of Saxony (1138-1142).

1136

The margraviate of Brandenburg is created from the March.

Margraves of Brandenburg (Ascanians)
AD 1136 - 1323

Brandenburg was formed in 1136 from the North March. In part it bordered the new duchy of Pomerania which had been formed on the south Baltic coast in what is now north-western Poland. Wartislaw I of Pomerania made vast conquests on the west bank of the Oder, and these were placed under the overlordship of Albert I by the Holy Roman Emperor.

1136 - 1170

Albert I the Bear

Albert of Saxony (1138-1142).

1170 - 1184

Otto I

1184 - 1205

Otto II

1205 - 1220

Albert II

Duke of Saxony (1212-1260).

1220 - 1267

Otto III

1220 - 1266

John

1266 - 1308/9

Otto IV

1266 - 1281

John II

1266 - 1304

Conrad

1304 - 1319

Waldemar

1319 - 1323

The title is apparently vacant before being gained by the Wittelsbachs.

Margraves of Brandenburg (Wittelsbachs)
AD 1323 - 1355

1323 - 1355

Louis I

Louis V of Bavaria.

1355

The margraviate is raised to an Electorate.

Electors of Brandenburg (Wittelsbachs)
AD 1355 - 1373

1355 - 1361

Louis I

1351 - 1355

Louis II

1351 - 1373

Otto V

Electors of Brandenburg (Luxembourg)
AD 1373 - 1417

1373 - 1378

Charles

Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV (1347-1378).

1373 - 1378

Wenceslaus

Holy Roman Emperor (1378-1400). Died 1419.

1378 - 1397

Sigismund

Pretender to the Polish throne (1382-1383).

1397 - 1411

Jobst of Moravia

HRE rival (1410-1411).

1411 - 1417

Sigismund

Restored. HRE (1410-1437). Died 1438.

1415 - 1417

The title is managed by Frederick, Captain & Administrator of Brandenburg, before his Hohenzollern family purchase the title.

Electors of Brandenburg (Hohenzollern) / Brandenburg-Prussia
AD 1415 - 1701

In 1415 the electorate of Brandenburg was purchased from the Holy Roman empire by the house of Hohenzollern which came from southern Germany, in former Swabia. To the east, the monastic state of the Teutonic Knights was formed during their conquest of the pagan Baltic Old Prussians in the thirteenth century, but this was secularised in 1525, during the Protestant Reformation, and replaced with the duchy of East Prussia. Joining these two possessions together in 1618, the Hohenzollerns formed Brandenburg-Prussia.

1415 - 1440

Frederick I Hohenzollern

Captain & Administrator of Brandenburg (1415-1417).

1440 - 1470

Frederick II Iron Tooth

1470 - 1486

Albert III Achilles

1486 - 1499

John Cicero

1499 - 1535

Joachim I

1525

A member of the family, grandmaster of the Teutonic Knights Albrecht von Hohenzollern, margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach, combines Teutonic East Prussia with Brandenburg. The two segments are run by the two main branches of the family, and East Prussia remains under the control of Albrecht. William, grandson of Elector Albert III, remains archbishop of Riga until the post's secularisation in 1563.

1535 - 1571

Joachim II

1571 - 1598

John George

1587

The duchy of Courland is divided in two, and the ruler of the western section, Wilhelm, marries the daughter of the duke of East Prussia and regains the Grobina district.

1598 - 1608

Joachim Frederick

1608 - 1619

John Sigismund

1618

The duke of East Prussia (Albert Frederick) dies without an heir and the territory is inherited by Brandenburg.

1619 - 1640

George William

First Elector of Brandenburg-Prussia 1618.

1640 - 1688

Frederick William the Great Elector

1648

The near-constant warfare and rapid change brought about by the Reformation and its Papal response, the Counter Reformation, is finally ended by the Peace of Westphalia, as is the Thirty Years' War. As part of the treaty's terms, Sweden loses Further-Pomerania to Brandenburg-Prussia.

1688 - 1701

Frederick III

Son. Elevated to Frederick I, first king of Prussia.

1701

The electorate is elevated to a kingdom by the Holy Roman Emperor, the first German state to be raised in this manner.

Kingdom of Prussia
AD 1701 - 1871

1701 - 1713

Frederick I

Former elector, Frederick III.

1713 - 1740

Frederick William I

Son.

1740 - 1786

Frederick II the Great

Son.

1740 - 1748

The War of the Austrian Succession is a wide-ranging conflict that encompasses the North American King George's War, two Silesian Wars, the War of Jenkins' Ear, and involves most of the crowned heads of Europe in deciding the question of whether Maria Theresa can succeed as archduke of Austria and, perhaps even more importantly, as Holy Roman Emperor. Austria is supported by Britain, the Netherlands, the Savoyard kingdom of Sardinia, and Saxony (after an early switchover), but opposed by an opportunistic Prussia and France, who had raised the question in the first place to disrupt Habsburg control of central Europe, backed up by Bavaria and Sweden (briefly). Spain joins the war in an unsuccessful attempt to restore possessions lost to Austria in 1715.

War of the Austrian Succession
The War of the Austrian Succession saw Europe go to war to decide whether Maria Theresa would secure the throne left to her by her father, but several other issues were also decided as a wide range of wars were involved in the overall conflict

The War of Jenkins' Ear pitches Britain against Spain between 1739-1748. The Russo-Swedish War, or Hats' Russian War, is the Swedish attempt to regain territory lost to Russia in 1741-1743. King George's War is fought between Britain and France in the French Colonies in 1744-1748. The First Carnatic War of 1746-1748 involves the struggle for dominance in India by France and Britain. Henry Pelham, leader of the English government in Parliament, is successful in ending the war, achieving peace with France and trade with Spain through the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. Austria is ultimately successful, losing only Silesia to Prussia.

1772

Prussia gains territory in Poland-Lithuania during the First Partition: Royal Prussia, Warmia, and parts of Great Poland which are formed into the province of West Prussia.

1786 - 1797

Frederick William II

1792 - 1795

FeaturePrussia declares war on republican France, along with Austria, as part of the First Coalition. Between 1793-1795 the kingdom greatly benefits by gaining more territory during the Second Partition of Poland-Lithuania (1793), and the Third Partition of Poland-Lithuania (1795), which wipes the joint states from the map. With these targets achieved, Prussia agrees a separate peace with France in 1795.

1797 - 1840

Frederick William III

Map Son.

1806 - 1807

The emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte, heavily defeats Prussia and the Fourth Coalition, and liberates Prussia's holdings in Poland, forming them into an Imperial satellite state. In 1807, Pomerania is seized from Prussia.

1814 - 1815

France is defeated at the end of the Napoleonic Wars and Prussia gains Pomerania from Sweden as part of the reshuffle of territories and power that follows during the Congress of Vienna. Prussia also gains Saxe-Merseburg, Saxe-Weissenfels and Saxe-Zeitz from the kingdom of Saxony. The kingdom has to fight again, however. The duke of Wellington's Anglo-Dutch-German army defeats Napoleon's resurgent French army at the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June in conjunction with the Prussian army, decisively ending twenty-five years of war in Europe.

1840 - 1861

Frederick William IV

1861 - 1871

William I

Brother. Kaiser of Germany from 18 January 1871.

1865

Prussia gains the former Saxon territory of Saxe-Lauenburg.

1866

Prussia fights the Austro-Prussian War against Austria, essentially as a decider to see which of the two powers will be dominant in Central Europe. Prussia gains the newly-created kingdom of Italy as an ally in the south and several minor German states in the north. Austria and its southern German allies are crushed in just seven weeks (giving the conflict its alternative title of the Seven Weeks' War), and Prussia is now unquestionably dominant.

Bismark oversees the seizure of four of Austria's northern German allies, the kingdom of Hanover, the electorate of Hessen-Kassel, and the duchy of Nassau, along with the free city of Frankfurt. Prussia also subsumes Schleswig and Holstein, although the former has technically been Prussian since 1864, and forces Saxe-Lauenberg into personal union (annexation in all but name, which turns into fact in 1876). Many of these gains ensure that Prussian territories in the east and west are now connected through the Rhineland and Westphalia.

The new, Prussian-dominated North German Confederation gains members in Anhalt-Dessau, Bremen, Brunswick, Hamburg, Lippe-Detmold, Lübeck, Mecklenburg-Schwerin Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Strelitz Neustrelitz, Oldenburg, Reuss, Saxe-Altenburg, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Saxe-Meiningen, Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, Saxony, Schaumburg-Lippe Bückeburg, Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt Rudolstadt, Schwarzburg-Sondershausen Sondershausen, and Waldeck-Pyrmont Arolsen.

1868 - 1871

The exile of Queen Isabella of Spain to France starts a remarkable chain of events. Isabella's abdication on 25 June 1870 leads to the Franco-Prussian war when France refuses to accept the possibility of the Prussian Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen gaining the Spanish throne. French troops are humiliated by Prussia's ultra-modern army and the siege of Paris brings about the downfall of its empire. Following the victory, the Second Reich (Germanic empire) is declared by Prussia, which now displaces Austria as the main Germanic power, as well as being the dominant power throughout central and western Europe.

German Empire (Second Reich)
AD 1871 - 1918

The remarkable victory over the French empire in 1871 allowed Prussia to declare the 'Second German Empire' (or 'reich') under the former Prussian King William I, now Emperor William. Pursuing an aggressive policy of integration within Germany under Chancellor Bismarck, the new empire incorporated the grand duchy of Baden as a state under its overall control. Bavaria, Hessen-Darmstadt, Lippe, Saxony, and Württemberg were also forcibly included within the empire as vassal states.

1871 - 1888

William I

First Prussian German emperor.

1882

Italy and France disagree over their respective colonial expansionism so, seeing an opportunity to isolate France, Bismarck welcomes Italy into a Triple Alliance with Prussia and Austria. Italian relations with Berlin now enter their best period, although Vienna remains icily formal with its former subject.

1888

Frederick III

Son. Died after 100 days' rule. m Vicky, dau. of Victoria.

1889 - 1918

William II

Son. 'Kaiser Bill'. Fled to Holland in 1918.

1899

A year after Spain loses the Spanish-American War, it sells the last of its islands in the Pacific to Germany.

1890

A British Protectorate is created for Zanzibar under the terms of the Helgoland-Zanzibar Treaty in which Germany undertakes to avoid becoming involved in British interests in the area.

1895

FeatureWith the accession of the incapacitated Prince Alexander of Lippe, the 'Lippe-Detmold Question' is first raised. Its significance lies not so much in the relatively obscure successional conflict that is triggered in Lippe but in the way it highlights certain weaknesses within the administrative structure of the German empire.

1905

FeatureThe Supreme Parish and Collegiate Church (Evangelical Oberpfarr- und Domkirche) is completed in the heart of Berlin, serving as the primary church of Germany's Protestants.

1914

The German empire moves swiftly to support its ally, Austria-Hungary, in a long-anticipated Great War (later more readily known as the First World War, or World War I). At the start it is successful against the Russian invasion of Prussia, routing their army at the Battle of Tannenberg, and in the west its armies reach the northern outskirts of Paris (occupying Luxembourg along the way) before they are stopped by the armies of Britain and France, together with the small Belgian army. Turkey joins the German cause on 31 October, but Afghanistan remains neutral, refusing to attempt an attack on British India. Other neutral countries include Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.

Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1914
Kaiser Wilhelm II of Prussia and the German empire inspects his troops on the eve of war in 1914, a war that none of the tributary Germanic principalities had any chance of escaping

1915

In the secret Treaty of London of 26 April, Italy agrees to abandon its allies, Germany and Austria-Hungary, declaring war on them instead. Germany begins to conquer the Baltic Provinces by taking Courland.

FeatureA German U-boat sinks the SS Lusitania on 7 May, killing 1,198 and inflaming anti-German feeling in the USA.

1916

German vessels which have been interned in Portuguese ports are seized by the country's government, so William declares war on Portugal. It responds by sending troops to the Western Front to fight alongside the British. On the Eastern Front, Russian defeats bring Latvia and Lithuania under Imperial control, much to the relief of the German-descended land-owning aristocracy there.

1917

In April, Bolivia, Cuba, and the USA all side with the allies but Bolivia takes no active role in the war. In October, Brazil, Peru, and Uruguay also join the allied side, with Ecuador and Panama following suit in December. Venezuela remains neutral.

1918

FeatureIn April, Guatemala joins the allies, followed a month later by Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Honduras makes the same move in July. The conquest of the Baltic Provinces is completed by Germany with the taking of Estonia. But as the diplomatic, and social situation worsens in Germany in late 1918, the country loses its Austrian ally on 3 November. William II, at the Western Front with his troops from 29 October following riots in Berlin, is forced to abdicate on 9 November, signalling the end of the House of Hohenzollern in power. The next day he flees to neutral Holland and spends the remainder of his life as a gentleman farmer on a private estate, under loose house arrest by the Dutch Government. The war officially ends on 11 November.

German Republics
AD 1919 - 1990

Following the collapse at the end of the First World War, Germany became a republic with a new government, proclaimed on 9 November 1918, but without a president until 1919. Wracked by uncertainty and civil war at the start, it was never entirely stable and, pressured by massive inflation and unemployment, excessive war reparation payments to the Allied nations, and plotting from extremist fascist groups, it fell in 1933, to be replaced by a Nazi government. After the conclusion of the Second World War, two separate governments were established in the now-divided Germany, east and west, until 1990, when the country was reunited under the western government and Berlin again became the capital of a single Germany.

Successive claimants to the Hohenzollern imperial throne are shown with a shaded background, while rival claimants and disqualifications are shown in green text.

1918 - 1941

William II

Deposed emperor of Germany. Died 1941.

1919

Germany adopts the democratic 'Weimar Constitution' following the abolition of the German empire. This new Germany consists of the former German kingdoms and duchies, all of which have now been abolished, which include Baden, Bavaria, Hesse, Lippe, Saxony and Württemberg.

1921

The new Polish state ends the Russo-Polish War and confirms its borders, which also include West Prussia, cutting off East Prussia from Germany, which has already lost Pomerania.

1933

The Third Reich ('third empire' of Germany, which claims the first (Holy Roman) and second (German) empires as its forebears in order to attain a level of legitimacy) is established under Adolf Hitler's dictatorial Nazi rule, sweeping away the Weimar republic.

1933 - 1945

Adolf Hitler

Austrian Nazi leader, or 'fuehrer'.

1937 - 1939

For much of the Spanish Civil War both Hitler and Mussolini's Italy supply weapons and even aircraft to Franco's forces. For Hitler, it proves to be a trial run for his 'blitzkrieg' tactics of 1940. Austria is annexed to Germany in 1938, as is Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland, while the Teutonic Knights are outlawed.

1939

The Nazi invasion of Poland on 1 September is the trigger for the Second World War. With both France and Great Britain pledged to support Poland, both countries have no option but to declare war on 3 September.

1940

The German invasion of the Low Countries begins, using a new military doctrine called 'blitzkrieg', with the result that the Netherlands, Belgium, and then France are invaded and occupied. Later in the same year, the Baltic States, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, are also occupied, as are Denmark and Norway. Sweden retains its neutrality.

Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler at the height of his rule over Nazi Germany

1941

Greece is occupied, and a pro-German coup in Iraq is suppressed. In December, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and the USA join the war on the allied side, initially against Japan, but Germany is soon included. Portugal, while officially neutral, provides Great Britain with naval facilities in the Azores.

1941 - 1951

Crown Prince Frederick William

Eldest son. of William II. 'Little Willy'. Renounced throne Dec 1918.

Prince William

Eldest son. Disqualified by making a morganatic marriage.

1942

Peru becomes the first South American nation to declare war against Germany, joined in August by Brazil. The sinking of a Mexican tanker also brings that country into the war on the allied side.

1943

In April, Bolivia joins the war on the allied side, while Colombia joins in July. In September, Germany takes control of Albania and Istria, as well as northern Italy in the face of the Allied invasion and liberation as far as Rome.

1944

Finland is invaded, but the Finns manages to expel German forces from Northern Lapland in the Lapland War.

1945

Ecuador, Paraguay, Turkey, Uruguay, and Venezuela belatedly join the allied side in the war in February, while Argentina joins in March, and Chile joins in April. In the same month, as Adolf Hitler celebrates his fifty-sixth birthday, the first Soviet Russian artillery shells fall on Berlin. Hitler subsequently commits suicide in his bunker on 30 April as Soviet forces overrun Berlin. Nazi Germany surrenders unconditionally on 7 May to the Allies at General Eisenhower's HQ at Rheims in France.

1945 - 1949

Following the Nazi surrender, Germany is occupied by the forces of Soviet Russia, the United States, Britain, and France until 1949. The victorious Russians take East Prussia and annexe it directly to the state. The German population either flees or is expelled and is replaced by an imported Russian population.

1949

Soviet Russian forces lift the blockade of Berlin (24 June 1948 to 11 May 1949), during which the 'Berlin Airlift' makes 278,228 supply flights. The sectors controlled by the United States, Britain and France are merged to form the Federal Republic of Germany in West Germany on 7 October 1949, while the Soviet zone establishes the German Democratic Republic in East Germany.

1951 - 1994

Prince Louis Ferdinand

Second son of William II. Born 1907.

Prince Frederick William V

Son. Disqualified through two morganatic marriages.

Prince Michael

Brother. Disqualified through morganatic marriage.

Prince Louis Ferdinand

Brother. Born 1944, died of injuries in 1977. Next in line for title.

1961

The East German government closes the border with West Berlin on 13 August and begins building a dividing wall. The Berlin airlift follows, saving West Berlin from annexation by the Communists.

1989 - 1990

With the weakening of the Soviet Union and increased calls for reform, the Berlin Wall is pulled down by the people of both halves of the divided city, the border guards taking no action to stop them. The following year, the two Germanies are reunited on 3 October.

Modern Germany
AD 1990 - Present Day

Modern Germany may descend from a broad swathe of central European territory that was known as Germania during the Roman empire period, but its political foundation arose thanks to the Carolingian empire of the Franks. The subsequent formation of the Holy Roman empire under purely German leaders saw its borders crystallised, especially on the always more fluid eastern side.

The Hohenzollern family lived on after the fall of Prussia, and never renounced their claim to the Prussian throne, although all six of William II's sons swore not to succeed him to the German Imperial throne. The royal house is now led by the hereditary claimant, and a branch of the family is heir to the throne of Romania.

Successive claimants to the Hohenzollern imperial throne are shown with a shaded background, while rival claimants and disqualifications are shown in green text.

(Information expanded by Tom Horne.)

1994 - Present

Prince George Frederick

Son of Louis. Born 1976 and inherited title. Has no offspring.

2011

George Frederick, the son of Prince Louis Ferdinand, great-grandson of Kaiser William II, and the heir to the Prussian throne, is married on Saturday 27 August. His bride is Princess Sophie von Isenburg, who is just a year younger than the prince himself. The ceremony takes place in the Church of Peace in Sanssouci in Potsdam. The marriage, and the possibility of future issue, places Prince Christian-Sigismund's position as heir in doubt.

Prince Christian-Sigismund of Prussia

Uncle of George and heir. Son of Louis-Ferdinand. Born 1946.