Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/542

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The condition on which Stein based his acceptance of office was itself of immense importance; he insisted that the system of governing through irresponsible cabinet coun-Re, oms cillors, which had gradually become customary, should cease, and that the responsible ministers of departments should be at once the confidential advisers and the executive agents of the king. Stein's edict of 1807 abolished serfdom and obliterated the legal distinction of classes by establishing freedom of exchange in land and free choice of occupation? The “ Stadteordnung ” of 1808 reformed the municipalities and granted them important rights of self-government. His administrative reforms amounted to a complete reconstruction of the ministerial departments and the machinery of provincial government, and practically established the system now in force. In 1810 Hardenberg, with a precipitancy which Stein would scarcely have approved, continued the reform in the condition of the peasants by making them absolute owners of part of their holdings, the landlords obtaining the rest as an indemnity for their lost dues? The army was also reorganized by Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, while the condition imposed by Napoleon that it should not exceed 42,000 men was practically evaded by replacing each body of men by another as soon as it was fairly versed in military exercises. The educational reforms of Wilhelm von Humboldt established the school system of Prussia on its present basis, and the university of Berlin was founded in 1809 (see STEIN, H. F. C. Fnsnrnruz v0N; HARDEN-BERG, K. A. v0N).

Frederick William hesitated to take part in the Austrian rising in 1809, but his opportunity came in 1813, when Napoleon fied from Russia. General York, commander of the corps that Prussia had been obliged to contribute to the French expedition, anticipated the formal declaration of war by joining the Russians with his troops on his own responsibility (Dec. 30, 1812). On the outbreak of the war the people rose en masse and with the utmost enthusiasm. A treaty of alliance between Russia and Prussia was concluded at Kalisch, and Austria, after some hesitation, also joined the league against Napoleon. In the struggle that followed (see NAPOLEONIC CALTPAIGNS) Prussia played one of the most prominent parts, and her general Blücher was the driving force of the allied armies. Between 1813 and the battle of Waterloo Prussia lost 140,000 men, and strained her financial resources to the utmost. As compensation she received at the Congress of Vienna In, am the northern half of Saxony, her old possessions west of the Elbe, Swedish Pomerania, the duchies of Berg and Jiilich, and other districts in Westphalia and on the Rhine. The acquisitions of the last partition of Poland, with the exception of the grand-duchy of Posen, were resigned to Russia; Friesland went to Hanover, and Bavaria was allowed to retain Baireuth and Ansbach, which had come into her hands in 1806. This arrangement of the map did not wholly restore Prussia to its former extent, as its area was now only 108,000 sq. m. compared with 122,000 sq. m. at the beginning of 1806, but the substitution of German for Slav territory and the shifting of the centre of gravity towards the west more than made up for any slight loss in size. Hanover still formed a huge wedge splitting Prussia completely in two, and the west ern frontier was very ragged. Prussia's position required caution, but forced upon it a national German policy; and the situation of the new lands was vastly more effectual in determining the future leader of Germany than was Austria's aggrandisement in Italy. The task that confronted Frederick William III. in 1815-that of welding together the heterogeneous elements assembled under Prussia his crown by the great congress-was one that would any,815 have taxed the statesmanship of a stronger man than he. The population of Prussia had been more than doubled, and contained. besides 2,000,000 Slavs, people of every German SteIn's


Previous to this measure the distinction between “ noble, " “ burgher, " and “ peasant " land and occupations was strictly observed, and no transition of property or employment from one class to another was possible,

  • The patrimonial jurisdiction of the landowners was not taken

away till 1848.

race; and, as an additional problem, the annexation of the Rhine provinces had raised the number of Roman Catholic subjects of the most Protestant of the German monarchies to some two-f1fths of the whole. Qn the ard of June ISI4 thedking had issued a cabinet or er promising on is return to give a ecision as to a national constitution, and this promise had been Qgsthgtof repeated in proclamations at Danzig and Posen (Maya 'ms " 1815) and in the patent addressed to the new Saxon °" provinces on the 22nd of May: in addition to the provincial estates there was to be a national Diet for the whole country. When, however, the work of drawing up the constitution was put in hand, it soon became clear that it would meet with extraordinary difficulties. Liberalism was as yet a force only in the professional classes; the provinces, proud of their traditions, were 10th to be merged in a common organization (Pomeranians and Silesians are described in contemporary documents as “ nations ); above all, there was the fundamental antagonism, by no means extinct even now, between the old eastern provinces, with their strong feudal spirit, and the new western provinces, in which the ideas of the Revolution had gained a permanent ascendancy; and of all these conflicting tendencies, one only was organized into a compact body of opinion: the ultra-conservative feudal landowners (Junker) of the mark of Brandenburg, “ heartless, wooden, half-educated people, " as Stein called them, “ fit only to be turned into corporals or calculating machines, " but for all that the very backbone of the traditional Prussian monarchy.

In spite of all the king would probably have granted a constitution, but for the § ~timZd alirjums and excursions of the Liberal Turnvereine an ursc ensc a ten. The trials an humi iations he had passed through during the revolutionary gaizefman epoch had left him in a condition of nervous appre- Ria;i°n hension, which the Wartburg festival of October 1818111 pmol; (Kamptz's Police Laws, an uhlan's stays and a corporal's Ss 3 cane—symbols of Prussian methods-had been committed to the flames) and the murder of Kotzebue turned into reactionary panic. Metternich, who had never ceased to warn the king of the peril to the Prussian monarchy which would result from a central representative system, seized the opportunity; under his influence in October 1819, Frederick William by signing the Carlsbad Decrees (q.v.) definitely committed himself to the Austrian system of “ stability.” It was not, however, till the 11th of June 1821 that the king finally decided to postpone the constitution, and to summon a commission to organize a system of provincial estates, which were created by royal patent on the 5th of June 1823. For the rest, the question of a constitution was not again raised during the king's reign, and for years the Prussian police engaged in the congenial task of “ demagogue hunting ” (Demagogenhetzerei), 'popular heroes like ahn and Arndt being haled to prison on frivolous charges, an even Gneisenau and Scharnhorst surrounded with spies.

Meanwhile, by an ordinance of the 20th of April 1814.the kingdom had been divided into eight provinces, each province into government districts (Regierungsbezirke), and these again Ad I i tr into “ circles " administered by a Lamirat (lzmdnitlviche tl ml?" S " Kreise). At the head of each Regierungsbezirk was a Ve, 'Zh government board responsible to the Oberpnisident, gm za °“ who was responsible in his turn to the ministry under the chancellor. On the 20th of March 1817 was created a council of state (Staatsrat) consisting of the royal princes, high officials and a certain number of members nominated by the king, whose function was to supervise the administration and discuss projects of legislation. Its immediate tasks were to bring the new provinces into harmony with the Prussian system and to set 'order into the disorganized finances. Both problems were solved in a manner that did credit to the Prussian bureaucracy. By 1820, in spite of the damage caused by the war and of the exhaustion of the country, the financial situation was satisfactory, the king having contributed to this result by surrendering the Crown domains to the state, reserving only a charge of 2,500,000 thalers, the so-called Kronfdeikommissfonds. The reconciliation of the new provinces to the new order was a matter of even more difficulty, notably Th N in the case of the population of the Rhine districts, Pme new which had been accustomed to the easy-going methods V ws and light taxation of the ecclesiastical princes. They were, however, to a certain extent reconciled by the wise liberality which left to them many of their peculiar institutions, e.g. the Code Na oléon in the Rhine provinces. Most burdensome of all was the i)aw of the 3rd of September 1814 introducing universal military service and organizing the Landwehr; but it was precisely this which was to be the strongest factor in welding Prussia together and making her supreme in Germany.

Of all the reforms the most far-reaching was the creation, on the 1st of January 1834, of the famous customs union or Th Zo” Zollverein, which was to become the material basis veg, ” of Prussia's influence in Germany. (For details see GERMANY: History, xi. 865.)

In educational matters also the government achieved results of lasting value. The university of Bonn was founded, the others were reorganized; numerous Gymnasien were built and above all