Prussian statesman and reformer. After various diplomatic and administrative appointments he became Minister of Commerce in 1804. In 1807 he was dismissed by Frederick William III for attempting to increase the responsibilities of the ministers of state. However, in the aftermath of the Prussian defeat at Jena, Stein was recalled to begin his enlightened reforms. He persuaded the king to abolish the serf system, to end the restrictions on the sale to non-nobles of land owned by nobles, and to end the monopoly of the sons of the nobility in the Prussian officers corp. He wanted the king to authorize a national insurrection against the French and mobilize patriotic energies by the grant of a “free constitution”, but this alarmed Napoleon, who persuaded the king to dismiss him again (1808). His pleas for a united Germany were ignored at the Congress of Vienna. Stein subsequently became chief counsellor to Alexander I of Russia (1812–15).