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Kingdom of Prussia

Kingdom of Prussia was the successor state to the Duchy of Brandenburg. In 1701 the German Emperor granted the Elector of Brandenburg the title of King in Prussia. In 1772 King Friedrich II annexed Polish province of Royal Prussia, without the Gdansk territory[?], from the Kingdom of Poland, and united it with the duchy of Prussia (it now taking the name East Prussia). In 1793, King Friedrich Wilhelm II annexed the areas around Gdansk and Torun. In 1793 and 1795, larger areas of Poland were added, which were organized into the Provinces of South Prussia and New East Prussia. Like many countries in Eastern Europe at that time, the old Polish Kingdom was inhabited by many ethnic groups, and it is important not to confuse political loyalties with ethnic identities. Many loyal Polish subjects were not ethnically Polish. Western Prussia, including Gdansk, had had a ethnic German majority for centuries, while a sizable German minority lived in the Torun area. Other important ethnic groups, besides Poles, were Jews. Some locals even descended from hardy Scotsmen, who had fled to Danzig in the 16th century, and founded the suburb of New Scotland.

The Kingdom of Prussia at this time was not part of Germany. Königsberg was the capital and coronation city of the Prussian kings. In 1806 Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Europe and abolished the German empire and the title of Kaiser for Germany (capital: Wien [Vienna]). The Kaiser in Wien became Kaiser of Austria with no power in the rest of Germany. The titles of Kurfürst (elector) became meaningless and was abolished and changed to Kings of Bohemia, Prussia, Saxony, Bavaria, Wuerttemberg, and Hannover by Napoleon's grace. The archbishops and Catholic church had lost all their secular power in 1803.

After Napoleon's final defeat in 1815 the kingdom of Prussia became known as "Die Vereinigten Preussischen Staaten" (United Prussian States) which now also included provinces like Silesia, Brandenburg, Pomerania and areas as far west as the Rhine province. Berlin now became the Prussian capital. Until 1806 the Hohenzollern sovereign had had many titles and hats from Head of the Evangelic Church to King, Elector, Grandduke, Duke for the various regions and realms under his rule. After 1806 he simply was King of Prussia. Terms like German government or German army have no meaning for this time period until 1871.

In 1871 Germany as an empire with a Kaiser was re-established with Berlin as the capital of Germany and Prussia and with the Prussian king also having the title of German Kaiser. All monarchies in Germany were abolished in 1918 and Prussia was declared defunct in 1945 by the Allied victors.

Also see :
List of Kings of Prussia
Royal Prussia
Ducal Prussia
History of Germany
Franco-Prussian War
West Prussia
East Prussia

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