History of Brandenburg-Prussia, General Observations

The history of Brandenburg is dominated by two dynasties, the Askanier Dynasty which created the Margraviate of Brandenburg, and the Zollern Dynasty (rechristened Hohenzollern Dynasty by historians of the nationalistic-romanticist 20th century) which turned Brandenburg- Prussia into a military and later also political great power.
Accounts of the History of Brandenburg-Prussia therefore tend to shift focus; in chapters dealing with the earlier history, the focus is on the two nuclei of the later great power - the Margraviate of Brandenburg and the state of the Teutonic Order, centered on East Prussia. Chapters dealing with the 19th century focus on the history of the entire state and her central government.
Important areas which over time were annexed into the Brandenburg-Prussian state, and which were of significant historical importance, do not get the attention they deserve, for example Silesia, Prussian Saxony, Westphalia and the Rhineland, the centers of Prussia's emerging industry in the 19th century. The original nuclei of the state which became such a power in the 18th century, in the course of the growth of the state, receive less attention in an account of the history of the state in the 19th or 20th century. Traditional accounts of the History of Prussia emphasize the German-ness of the state and fail to address the history of other ethnic groups within the state, the Slavs of Brandenburg, Pomerania, Silesia, the Baltic ethnic Prussians of Eastern Prussia.

The account offered here at WHKMLA suffers from the same problem just described. As in our times it is no longer satisfactory to describe history as the history of a dynasty or state, matters such as social and economic history have to be addressed. For these, in a complex state such as 19th century Prussia, the territory rather than the frequently changing borders of a state seems to be the appropriate object of observation; after all, the state of Prussia has vanished; the territories (although not without changes) are still there.
Therefore, the account of the History of Brandenburg-Prussia at WHKMLA (which, at present - April 2004 - is in dire need of revision) will be reorganized into one line of account following the fate of the state, for her later periods subdivided into separate chapters on foreign and domestic policy, the economy and intellectual/cultural life, and into lines of the History of provinces.

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This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on April 28th 2004, last revised on November 12th 2004

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