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William I

(1797—1888)


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Frederick William IV (1795—1861)

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Franco-Prussian War

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(1797–1888)

King of Prussia (1861–88) and German Emperor (1871–88). He devoted himself to the welfare of the Prussian army, assuming personal command in suppressing the Revolution of 1848 in Baden. When he succeeded to the Prussian throne in 1861 he proclaimed a new ‘era of liberalism’, but this did not last for long. In 1862 he invited Otto von Bismarck to become his Minister‐President and from then on relied increasingly on Bismarck's policies, giving his approval to the growing influence of Prussia. During the Franco‐Prussian War he took command of troops, receiving the surrender of Napoleon III at Sedan (September 1870). In January 1871 he was invited by the princes of Germany, at Bismarck's instigation, to become their emperor, thus creating the German Second empire. Two unsuccessful assassination attempts strengthened his popularity, but also offered a pretext to suppress socialists.

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