Otto von Bismarck

Most Influential Person Across History

German statesman and Chancellor

Why Is Otto von Bismarck Influential?

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According to Wikipedia, Otto, Prince of Bismarck, Count of Bismarck-Schönhausen, Duke of Lauenburg , born Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck, was a Prussian and later German statesman and diplomat. From his origins in the upper class of Junker landowners, Bismarck rose rapidly in Prussian politics, and from 1862 to 1890 he was the minister president and foreign minister of Prussia. Before that, he was the Prussian ambassador to Russia and France and served in both houses of the Prussian parliament. He masterminded the unification of Germany in 1871 and served as the first chancellor of the German Empire until 1890, in which capacity he dominated European affairs. He had served as chancellor of the North German Confederation from 1867 to 1871, alongside his responsibilities in the Kingdom of Prussia. He worked with King Wilhelm I of Prussia to unify the various German states. The king granted Bismarck the titles of Count of Bismarck-Schönhausen in 1865 and Prince of Bismarck in 1871. Bismarck provoked three short, decisive wars against Denmark, Austria, and France. Following the defeat of Austria, he replaced the German Confederation with the North German Confederation, aligning the smaller North German states with Prussia, but excluding Austria. Receiving the support of the independent South German states in Prussia's defeat of France, he formed the German Empire – which also excluded Austria – and united Germany. With Prussian dominance accomplished by 1871, Bismarck used balance of power diplomacy to maintain Germany's position in a peaceful Europe. However, the annexation of Alsace–Lorraine caused French revanchism and Germanophobia. Bismarck's Realpolitik and powerful rule at home led to him being called the Iron Chancellor. Juggling a very complex interlocking series of conferences, negotiations and alliances, he used his diplomatic skills to maintain Germany's position. Bismarck disliked colonialism because he thought it would consume German resources rather than reaping the benefit of it but reluctantly built an overseas empire when it was demanded by both elite and mass opinion.

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