Page:Statesman's Year-Book 1899 American Edition.djvu/928

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572

GERMAN EMPIRE.

(Deutsches E,Eicn.)

Reigning Emperor and King.

Wilhelm II., German Emperor, and King of Prussia, born January 27, 1859, became German Emperor June 15, 1888 (see Prussia).

Heir Apj^arent.

Prince Friedrich Wilhelm, born May 6, 1882, eldest son of the Emperor-King (see Prussia).

The present German Empire is essentially different from • the Holy Ptoman Empire which came to an end in 1806. But thouf^h Austria, the most important factor in the earlier empire, is not a member of the present, a brief historical summary, including both, is for convenience inserted here. The imperial throne, after the extinction of the Carlovingian line, was filled by election, though with a tendency towards the hereditary principle of succession. At first the Emperor was chosen by the vote of all the Princes and Peers of the Reich ; but the mode came to be changed in the fourteenth century, when a limited number of Princes, fixed at seven for a time, and afterwards enlarged to eight (nine from 1692 to 1777), assumed the privilege of disposing of the crown, and, their right being acknowledged, were called Electors. With the overthrow of the old Empire by the Emperor Napoleon, in 1806, the Electoral dif^nity virtually ceased, although the title of Elector was re- tatned sixty years longer by the sovereigns of Hesse-Cassel, the last of them dethroned in 1866 by Prussia. The election of Wilhelm I., King of Prussia, as the German Emperor (1871) was by vote of the Reichstag of the North German Confederation, on the initiative' of all the reigning Princes of Germany. Tlie imperial dignity is hereditary in the House of Hohenzollern, and follows the law of primogeniture.

Since Charleuiagnc was crowned ' Kaiser ' at Rome, on Christmas Day in the year 800, there liave been the following Emperors : —

House of Charlemagne. Karl I., * Dcr Grosse ' . 800-814 Lu.lwig I., * Dor Fvonuiie ' 814-840 Liulwig II., 'Dor Deutsche' 843-876

Karlll., 'Dcr Kahle' . 876-877

Karl, 'Der Dicke' . . 881-887

Ariuilf .... 887-899

Liulwig III., ' Das Kind ' 900-911