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Matthew Shute
               The Holy Roman Empire

• During the early years of Germany’s existence the nation
  was divided up into a large number of independent

• These states were organized into a loose confederation
  which was known as the Holy Roman Empire.

• The Empire was ruled by the Holy Roman emperor who
  was almost always a member of the Habsburg family.
              Holy Roman Empire cont.

• The Holy Roman emperor was elected in a process that
  was established by the Golden Bull in 1356.

• The emperors were elected by the leaders of the seven
  most powerful states which became known as elector

• The position of emperor however, was largely
  ceremonial as the emperor could not compel the
  independent states to do very much.
             The Protestant Reformation

• In 1517 a German monk named Martin Luther posted his
  95 theses in protest of the Catholic Church. This single
  act set of a chain of events that would split the church

• Luther became the most powerful Protestant leader and
  as such he helped the Protestant Churches to become
  established in Germany.
                    Reformation cont.

• In 1555 the emperor Charles V issued the doctrine of
  Cuius Regio, Eius Religio, which gave the rulers of
  states the right to determine the religion of their people.

• This act allowed Protestantism to become legitimate in

• In 1618 religious tensions erupted again between
  Protestants and Catholics, this war ended in 1648 with
  the treaty of Westphalia.
                   The Rise of Prussia

• In the late 1600’s under the leadership of Frederick
  William the state of Prussia was able to rise to the rank
  of elector state.

• In 1701 his son became Frederick the I King in Prussia
  giving the state a royal title.

• Frederick’s son Frederick William built up Prussia’s
  military into a formidable fighting force that would be
  useful in the future.

• In 1740 Frederick II came to power and immeadiatly
  used Prussia’s army to invade the Austrian province of

• This action set off the war of Austrian succession which
  ended with a Prussian victory allowing Frederick to keep
  what he had taken.

• Frederick II did not stay satisfied for long as he invaded
  Saxony and Bavaria starting the seven years war.

• Prussia held out through this war and despite the odds
  Frederick was once again victorious.

• After this war Frederick would become known as
  Frederick the Great.
         The End of the Holy Roman Empire

• In 1806 after Napoleon had invaded Germany the Holy
  Roman Empire was dissolved.

• During the period of Napoleonic dominance German
  nationalism rose and Prussia was finally able to throw off
  the French yoke.
                 The mid 19th Century

After the Napoleonic wars the German confederation was
   formed, this organization was nothing more than a way
   for the German states to meet and discuss issues
   involving Germany.

  The confederation was dominated by Austria and
  Prussia who competed for power in Germany.
                 German Unification

• When King William I came to power in Prussia he
  appointed Otto von Bismarck to the position of

• Bismarck pursued a policy of blood and Iron which
  enabled him to unify Germany.

• Bismarck fought 3 wars the Danish war, the Seven
  Weeks war, and The Franco-Prussian war all of which
  Prussia and it’s allies won.
                  The German Empire

• After the Franco-Prussian war the states of Germany
  united under Prussian leadership to form the German
  empire. King William I became Kaiser Wilhelm I and
  continued to pursue Bismarck’s foreign policies.

• When Wilhelm II came to power however, he pursued
  more imperialistic policies that effectively led the nation
  into WWI. Wilhelm brought Germany into the Triple
  Alliance which consisted of Germany, Austria, and Italy,
  this act drew the lines for a conflict of unprecedented

• In 1914 Germany and Austria went to war with Russia,
  France, and Great Britain. The Central powers as these
  two nations came to be known did well in the early years
  of the war but were unable to overcome the allies before
  America entered the conflict in 1917.

• In 1918 the war was over and Germany was forced to
  accept the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles.
                 The rise of the Nazis

• The harsh terms imposed by the Versailles treaty
  created a desperate situation in Germany out of which
  rose a new political force.

• The Nazis came to power under the leadership of Adolf
  Hitler in the early 1930’s and began to remilitarize

• In the late 1930’s Germany gained Austria, The Czech
  Republic, and took over Poland, this act led France and
  Great Britain to declare war.

• Early in the war France was knocked out by the German
  blitzkrieg tactics but Britain was able to hold out.

• The Germans attacked Russia but were not able to
  defeat it and began to be pushed back.

• In 1944 the allies invaded Europe and Germany was
  defeated by an assault on both sides.
            Post-WWII and the Cold War

• When Germany lost WWII it was divided into the
  Communist East and the democratic West to prevent it
  from growing powerful again.

• Throughout the cold war Germany remained an area of
  great tension between the east and the west.

• In 1989 the Berlin Wall fell and Germany was reunited
  for the first time in 45 years.

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