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A general overview of the German Kingdoms.
The grand arms (Großes Wappen) of Prussia around 1873

Prussia (German: Preußen) refers to several related areas in Europe, primarily as a German territory. Prussia was formally abolished (German: Abschaffung von Preußen) by a decree of the occupying WWII Allied Control Council on 25th February 1947.


Royal Standard of the King of Prussia (1871–1918)
  • The undefined/borderless homeland of the ancient Prussians, a non-Slav Baltic peoples, which was conquered by crusade by the German Teutonic Knights, gradually Christianized and Germanized. Thereafter it became the theocratic state, with recognized borders, of the Teutonic Order on the southeastern coast of the Baltic Sea.
  • Royal Prussia (1466–1772) was the territory awarded to Poland after its victory over the Teutonic Order in the Thirteen Years' War.
  • In 1525, it became a secularized "Duchy of Prussia" within the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation under Grand Master Albert of Brandenburg-Ansbach, a member of a cadet branch of the Hohenzollerns, and his successors. Prince-elector John Sigismund, Elector of Brandenburg, inherited the Duchy of Prussia in 1618, thus uniting Brandenburg and Prussia under one ruler in a personal union; the Elector's state became known as Brandenburg-Prussia.
  • Brandenburg-Prussia (1618–1701) was a personal union between the Hohenzollern rulers of Ducal Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg.
  • The "Kingdom of Prussia" (1701–1918), as it became from January 1701, continued its rule by the German Hohenzollern dynasty, including the former Duchy of Prussia and Electorate of Brandenburg, with Berlin as its capital. Initially a part of the Holy Roman Empire, Prussia gradually expanded in size, eventually becoming the dominant part of the German Empire, with the Prussian King also being the German Emperor.
  • Following the dissolution of the Hohenzollern monarchy at the end of World War I, Prussia became a Free State within Weimar Germany, its first Minister-President being Paul Hirsch (SPD). The state of Prussia was abolished by the Allied Control Council in 1947 in the aftermath of World War II.

Province of Prussia

The Province of Prussia (German: Provinz Preußen) was a province of Prussia from 1824/29 to 1878. The Province of Prussia was created on 13 April 1824, as the easternmost province of the Kingdom of Prussia. The province was formed in a merger with the pre-existing provinces of East Prussia and West Prussia joined together in a personal union. On 3 December 1829, the provinces of Prussia and West Prussia merged to the new Province of Prussia as a real union with its headquarters in Königsberg i. Pr. Since 1 July 1867, the province belonged to the North German Confederation and from 1 January 1871 to the German Empire. This was followed by the division of the province into the provinces of East Prussia and West Prussia on 1 April 1878.


The colors black and white as the national colors of Prussia and the black eagle as a heraldic animal go back to the Teutonic Order in the 13th century. The knights of the order wore a white shield with a black cross. The significant Grand Master of the Teutonic Order Hermann von Salza received the black imperial eagle (Reichsadler) as a sign of grace from Roman-German Emperor Friedrich II on the occasion of his appointment as imperial prince in the Golden Bull of Rimini and carried it on a white shield. The Hohenzollern dynasty, which appeared in the 17th century as the rulers of Mark Brandenburg and the Duchy of Prussia, under which the two countries grew together to form a unified Prussian state, already had a shield “through white and black quartered” as a family crest in medieval times. The flag of the Kingdom of Prussia commemorates the coronation of Frederick III. of Brandenburg in 1701, when the "Duchy of Prussia" became the "Kingdom of Prussia". On the kingdom's flag, the Prussian eagle now bore royal insignia instead of ducal ones. It became the flag of the Brandenburg-Prussian state, a monarchy that had been called "Prussia" since about the mid-18th century.

Their colors, black and white, were one of the origins, together with the white and red of the Hanseatic League, for the black, white, and red flag of the German Empire.

Prussian virtues

Even today, a certain kind of ethic is called "Prussian virtues" (German: preußische Tugenden or Preußentum), for instance: perfect organization, sacrifice, rule of law, obedience to authority, and militarism, but also reliability, religious tolerance, sobriety, pragmatism, thriftiness, punctuality, modesty, and diligence. Many Prussians believed that these virtues promoted the rise of their country.

  • Austerity or Thrift (German: Sparsamkeit)
  • Courage (German: Mut)
  • Determination (German: Zielstrebigkeit)
  • Discipline (German: Disziplin)
  • Fortitude without self-pity (German: Tapferkeit ohne Wehleidigkeit): Lerne leiden ohne zu klagen ("Learn to suffer without complaining")
  • Frankness or Probity (German: Redlichkeit)
  • Godliness, coupled with religious tolerance (German: Gottesfurcht bei religiöser Toleranz): Jeder soll nach seiner Façon selig werden ("Let everyone find salvation according to their own beliefs")
  • Humility or Modesty (German: Bescheidenheit)
  • Incorruptibility (German: Unbestechlichkeit)
  • Industriousness or Diligence (German: Fleiß)
  • Loyalty (German: Treue)
  • Obedience (German: Gehorsam): Seid gehorsam, doch nicht ohne Freimut ("Be obedient, but not without frankness")
  • Punctuality (German: Pünktlichkeit)
  • Reliability (German: Zuverlässigkeit)
  • Restraint (German: Zurückhaltung)
  • Self-denial (German: Selbstverleugnung)
  • Self-effacement (German: Zurückhaltung): Mehr sein als scheinen! ("More substance than semblance!")
  • Sense of duty or Conscientiousness (German: Pflichtbewusstsein)
  • Sense of justice (German: Gerechtigkeitssinn): Jedem das Seine or Suum cuique ("May all get their due")
  • Sense of order (German: Ordnungssinn):("Know your place")
  • Sincerity (German: Aufrichtigkeit)
  • Straightness or Straightforwardness (German: Geradlinigkeit)
  • Subordination (German: Unterordnung)
  • Toughness (German: Härte or Zähigkeit): Gegen sich mehr noch als gegen andere ("Be even harder on yourself than on others")

Flags of Prussia

See also

Further reading

  • The Evolution of Prussia by Sir J. A. R. Marriott, M.A., and Sir Charles Grant Robertson, C.V.O., LL.D., M.A., Revised edition, Clarendon Press, Oxford U.K. 1946.

External links