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The Kingdom of Prussia (German: Königreich Preußen, pronounced [ˈkøːnɪkʁaɪç ˈpʁɔʏsn̩] ⓘ) constituted the German state of Prussia between 1701 and 1918. It was the driving force behind the unification of Germany in 1866 and was the leading state of the German Empire until its dissolution in 1918. Although it took its name from the region called Prussia, it was based in the Margraviate of Brandenburg. Its capital was Berlin.
|History of Brandenburg and Prussia
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|History of Germany
The kings of Prussia were from the House of Hohenzollern. Brandenburg-Prussia, predecessor of the kingdom, became a military power under Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg, known as "The Great Elector". As a kingdom, Prussia continued its rise to power, especially during the reign of Frederick II "the Great". Frederick the Great was instrumental in starting the Seven Years' War (1756–1763), holding his own against Austria, Russia, France and Sweden and establishing Prussia's dominant role among the German states, as well as establishing the country as a European great power through the victories of the powerful Prussian Army. Prussia made attempts to unify all the German states (excluding the German cantons in Switzerland) under its rule, and whether Austria would be included in such a unified German domain became an ongoing question. After the Napoleonic Wars led to the creation of the German Confederation, the issue of unifying the German states caused the German revolutions of 1848–1849, with representatives from all states attempting to unify under their own constitution. Attempts to create a federation remained unsuccessful and the German Confederation collapsed in 1866 when the Austro-Prussian War ensued between its two most powerful member states.
Prussia was subsequently the driving force behind establishing in 1866 the North German Confederation, transformed in 1871 into the unified German Empire and considered the earliest continual legal predecessor of today's Federal Republic of Germany. The North German Confederation was seen as more of an alliance of military strength in the aftermath of the Austro-Prussian War but many of its laws were later used in the German Empire. The German Empire successfully unified all of the German states aside from Austria and Switzerland under Prussian hegemony due to the defeat of Napoleon III in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871. The war united all the German states against a common enemy, and with the victory came an overwhelming wave of nationalism which changed the opinions of some of those who had been against unification.
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