Wilhelm II: Prince and Emperor, 1859-1900

By Lamar Cecil | Go to book overview

Ten
UNCLE CHLODWIG

THE KAISER'S SELECTION of Hohenlohe was one of his disconcerting gestures, for the new chancellor and minister-president of Prussia was neither Prussian nor even Protestant, but a Catholic Bavarian, one of whose brothers was a prominent cardinal. The new chancellor, moreover, was seventy-five, a few weeks older than Wilhelm's grandmother, Queen Victoria, and indeed more aged at his appointment as the Kaiser's principal servant than Bismarck had been when he left office in 1890. No one was more surprised at the appointment than Hohenlohe himself.1 The prevailing assumption in political circles in Berlin was that the Kaiser intended Hohenlohe only as a caretaker, who after a brief interval would be retired in favor of Philipp Eulenburg or some other royal favorite. Whatever the term of his administration, the frail and reticent Prince was expected to be a weak figure, for he was known to possess neither Bismarck's irascibility nor Caprivi's stubbornness.2

Although Hohenlohe was unusually old to be assuming the highest position in the land, his many years of public service provided him with qualifications in no way inferior to those Bismarck himself had possessed. Hohenlohe had proved a capable leader of a liberal Bavarian government in the late 1860s and early 1870s, when he had been the primary exponent of Bavaria's joining in the war against France and supporting Bismarck in the creation of a German Empire dominated by Prussia. The chancellor rewarded Hohenlohe for his support by appointing him ambassador in Paris, a delicate position because of France's recent defeat in the Franco-Prussian war but one that Hohenlohe filled with éclat. After eleven years in Paris, Kaiser Wilhelm I approved Hohenlohe's promotion to viceroy of Alsace-Lorraine, an even more difficult assignment but one in which the grand seigneur displayed toward the French the same conciliatory spirit that had characterized his successful envoyship in Paris. Hohenlohe's exalted status as a mediatized prince and his tangled kinship with many German royal and noble houses en-

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Wilhelm II: Prince and Emperor, 1859-1900
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Names Appearing in Text and Notes xvii
  • One - The Heir 1
  • Two - The Education of A Prince 30
  • Three - A Potsdam Lieutenant 55
  • Four - The End of A Reign 88
  • Five - The Ninety-Nine Days of Kaiser Friedrich III 110
  • Six - Bismarck in Trouble 125
  • Seven - 1890 147
  • Eight - Caprivi, Eulenburg, and the Fall of Waldersee 172
  • Nine - Caprivi and the "New Course" 189
  • Ten - Uncle Chlodwig 212
  • Twelve - Our Arrogant Cousin, Albion 263
  • Thirteen - Rule Germania 291
  • Fourteen - Greatness and Eternal Glory 319
  • Notes 341
  • Bibliography of Manuscript Sources 441
  • Index 453
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