Otto von Bismarck

Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck-Schonhausen was born on April 1, 1815 at Schonhausen, a family estate in Prussia. A member of the Junker class, Bismarck studied law and agriculture at Gottingen, Berlin, and Grerfswald. (www.biography.com) Before entering politics in 1847, Bismarck managed his family estate and was a member of the Prussian civil service. Bismarck entered politics determined to free Germany from Austrian rule and unite them under Prussia. (www.encarta.com)
In the Prussian parliament Bismarck became known as an ultraroyalist because of his hate of Austria's supremacy and his demands for equal rights for Prussia. ( Gold and Iron, Stern 1977) In September 1862 William I appointed Bismarck minister-president (prime minister) of Prussia and minister of foreign affairs; but before that he was a representative a the assembly of the German confederation and as ambassador to Russia and France. As prime minister he was able to attempt his major goal, the unification of Germany under Prussian leadership and the establishment of Germany as the most powerful European nation. At the end of the Franco-German war (1871) Germany was unified and Bismarck became Chancellor under the new emperor William I. (Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia, volume 3, MCMCXXI)
Under the "Iron Chancellor," Germany grew from a weak confederation of states to a powerful empire. For most of the last half of the 19th century Bismarck's policies controlled the destinies of most of the countries of Europe. (Http://comptons.aol.com/encyclopedia) Bismarck used "Realpolitik" or realistic politics, to get what he wanted, using methods similar to those of Niccolio Machiavelli; "The ends justify the means" Bismarck was a master of manipulation. (The Prince, Machiavelli, 1513) Bismarck provoked a series of wars, he displayed his Realpolitik with his alliance with Austria, his long time rival, to defeat Denmark and take control of Schleswig Holstien. After Denmark was defeated, Prussia defeated Austria in the Seven Weeks' War for complete control of the land won from Denmark. Bismarck then transformed the Germanic Confederation and excluded Austria. (Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia, volume 3, MCMCXXI) In 1870 Bismarck provoked an unprepared French military to proclaim war against Prussia. The unaided French had no chance against Prussia, who got received assistance from many south German states. Germany annexed the French provinces of Alsace and Lorraine which was a major part of the upcoming World Wars. (Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia)
When Bismarck first entered politics in 1847, the German states were organized in a loose confederation, Bismarck's goals were to free the states
from Austrian domination and to unite them under Prussian rule, all of which he accomplished. He took Germany from the bottom of the pile and turned it into the most powerful nation of his time. his also introduced a number of social reforms, including a government ownership of some industries, and compulsory, accident, sickness and old-age insurance for working men. Bismarck also arranged the Berlin Conference of 1834-1835, the Triple Alliance of Austria-Hungary, Germany and Italy(1882), the League of the Three Emperors or Dreikaiserbund in 1873. (Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia) Bismarck is widely regarded as the greatest European diplomat of the 19th century. He transformed Germany from a group of conflicting kingdoms and principalities into a united nation and one of the great powers in the world. . (Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia, volume 3, MCMCXXI)