Otto von Bismarck (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: Bismarck, known as the “blood and iron chancellor,” occasioned the unification of the several German states into the German Empire of 1871-1918. Though his image is that of the aristocrat in a spiked helmet, he was above all a diplomat and a politician, skillfully manipulating the forces at work within Germany and among the European states to achieve his goals.
Young Otto von Bismarck was influenced both by his father’s and his mother’s heritages. His father was a Prussian Junker, an aristocrat of proud lineage but modest financial means. The family estates were not particularly large or productive, but provided a setting of paternalistic rule over peasants long accustomed to serve. From his mother and her family, Bismarck learned the sophistication of the upper bourgeoisie, the cosmopolitanism of city life and foreign languages, and something of the ideals of the Enlightenment. Both sides of the family took pride in service to the Prussian state and its ruling dynasty, the Hohenzollern. The Junker aristocrats often served in the military, while the upper bourgeoisie chose the civil service.
Bismarck received a rigorous classical education and attended Göttingen and Berlin universities. He tried his hand at a career in the Prussian diplomatic and civil service. Though his excellent family connections and quick mind should have assured his success, his early career was a...
(The entire section is 1972 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Otto von Bismarck (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Military significance: Bismarck used war as an extension of diplomacy to unify the German states into the Second Reich.
Otto von Bismarck was born into the Prussian landed nobility (junkers). After an undistinguished student career in law, he became a civil servant of the kingdom of Prussia in 1839. Disillusioned with government administration after a year, he retreated to his family estates as a gentleman farmer. Managing his estate did not fulfill him, and in 1847, he entered politics as delegate to Prussia’s diet. During the revolution of 1848, Bismarck emerged as a vocal archconservative supporter of the monarchy, urging the Prussian king to suppress the uprising by force. After the revolution failed, Bismarck was rewarded for his conservative monarchical attitudes with the post of Prussian ambassador to the German Confederation, the loose organization of thirty-nine German states under Austrian domination. Bismarck’s policy was to make Prussia equal to Austria within the German states. Appointments as Prussian ambassador to Russia and France followed; these ambassadorial positions were his diplomatic school.
In 1862, when the Prussian king and his legislature were at an impasse over an expansion of the army, the king recalled Bismarck from Paris and appointed him prime minister of Prussia. Because the government bureaucracy controlled tax collection, Bismarck spent money to expand the army without...
(The entire section is 684 words.)