A Short History of Germany by Ernest F. Henderson


Leaving aside for a moment the general history of Germany it becomes to trace the steps by which one state rose so high above the rest that it finally became the acknowledged head and leader.nd leader. Up to the accession in 1640 of that Frederick William who was later known as the Great Elector, the family of Hohenzollern could boast of no very distinguished members, and their territory consisted of scattered provinces with no real bond of union. The Mark Bradenburg had been in Hohenzollern hands for two centuries and a and quarter, and the early margraves, save for fulfilling their occasional duties as electors of the Holy Roman Empire, had spent their time in conflicts with their own nobles and cities. Frederick I., on whom, at the Council of Constance, the Emperor Sigismund had conferred the Mark, in recognition of his belligerent ways and administrative talents, had devoted his life and fortune to improving the land. He gained the upper hand of the Quitzows, Rochows, Alvenslebens, and other independent minded noble families by the aid of "Faule Grete," or "Lazy Peg," - a very ordinary cannon to those who view it to-day outside of the Berlin Arsenal, but an instrument of coercion without peer its in the early fifteenth century. Frederick II, tried much the same kind of argument against the citizens of Berlin, and finally built a strong fortress in their midst which forms part of the present castle. This same Frederick II, it was who purchased from the insolvent Teutonic Order the province known as the New Mark, stretching from the Oder on the west, and the Warthe on the south, far north into Pomerania. Thus was inaugurated that specially Hohenzollern policy of widening the inherited boundaries. From that day to this, with but one or two exceptions, each ruler in turn, by inheritance, by purchase, by conquest, or by peaceful annexation, has added something to his original domains.

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Tags: Hohenzollern, Prussia, Germany, History

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