they were generally more extensive in the west than in the east. The gradual spread of the industrial and agricultural revolutions was accompanied by an equally gradual abandonment of the vestiges of the feudal system, a decline which benefited the landowners and the bourgeoisie more than the peasants.3

The peasants, who were usually unable to support themselves on the land left to them,4 turned to home industries -- primarily weaving and spinning -- and when these were taken over by machines in the 1830s and 1840s, these peasants joined the ranks of the discontented landless and urban masses who played such an important role in the initial stages of the mid-century revolutions.

The gains of the bourgeoisie were primarily economic, occasionally social, and rarely political. That the bourgeoisie in central Europe did not gain political power despite their economic achievements (in contrast to the English pattern) led subsequently to the major constitutional and political conflicts in Germany in the second half of the nineteenth century.

The privileges and powers of the nobility remained intact. Land, especially in the east, was still the major source of wealth, and although the influence of the French Revolution had curtailed some noble privileges, the nobility retained its social position. The Stein- Hardenberg reforms of 1807-8 had only been an abortive beginning toward a more equitable social order.5

In the Altmark, home of the Bismarcks for over five centuries, conditions were no different from those in the north and east of Prussia. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the Bismarcks acquired Schoenhausen, an estate surrounded by sand and pine forests on the floodplain of the Elbe near Tangermuende and Stendal. It was here that Otto von Bismarck was born. His ancestors came from the nobility and the upper bourgeoisie. On his father's side, the family could be traced back to the thirteenth century, a part of the Brandenburg nobility whose members fought in the Thirty Years War, in French and Swedish armies, all over Europe. They stayed close to the land, served as sheriffs and judges, led frugal and sober lives, and seldom had higher aims. Though loyal to their sovereign, they were an independent lot. Frederick Wilhelm I once noted that the Bismarcks, the Schulenburgs, the Knesebecks, and the Alvenslebens were particu-

-2-

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Bismarck and His Times
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • 1 - Bismarck's Youth 1
  • 2 - Bismarck And The Revolution Of 1848 11
  • 3 - Frankfurt St. Petersburg Paris 1851-1862 23
  • 4 - Bismarck's Appointment And The Constitutional Conflict In Prussia 34
  • 5 - Bismarck's Three Wars 45
  • 6 - The New Reich 77
  • 7 - Bismarck's Foreign Policy 104
  • 8 - Bismarck's Dismissal 124
  • 9 - Bismarck Reassessed 130
  • Notes 135
  • Bibliographical Essay 165
  • Index 175
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