The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Hardenberg, Karl August, Prince

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HARDENBERG, här'dĕn-bėrk, Karl August, Prince, Prussian diplomat and Chancellor: b. Essenrode, Hanover, 31 May 1750; d. Genoa, Italy, 26 Nov. 1822. To his efforts with those of Baron Stein, Prussia owes her wide-spread plan of social and political reorganization, the reform of the military system, the overthrow of so-called feudalistic rights, the uplift of the peasantry, the spread of education and the opening of the civil service to all classes. He had studied at Leipzig and Göttingen, acquired early knowledge of political government at Regensburg, Vienna and Berlin, and traveled in France, Holland and England. He married the Countess Reventlow; in 1778 became privy councillor; and went to England, where his wife's intrigue with the Prince of Wales marred his career, and caused his resignation from the Hanoverian service. From 1782-87 he served the Duke of Brunswick, becoming president of the council of state; in 1790 was appointed to administer the margravate of Ansbach and Bayreuth, and the following year when it was incorporated with Prussia, King Frederick II made him Minister of State and Cabinet member. During the Napoleonic wars he was prominent in the management of public affairs; in 1804 became first Prussian Minister, and incurred the displeasure of Napoleon who insisted on his dismissal in the Treaty of Tilsit. In 1810, however, after the resignation of Stein, he was appointed Prussian Chancellor, and began that series of reforms with which his name is inseparably linked in Prussian history by the War of Liberation. He was a signatory to the first peace of Paris, 30 May 1814, and received the title of prince, 3 June 1814. He visited England with the allied sovereigns and was the chief representative of Prussia at the Congress of Vienna 1814-15, where, however, he was not equal to the diplomacy of Metternich and, weakening to reactionary measures, sank in public favor. In 1822 he went to Italy to attend the Congress of Verona and shortly after its close died suddenly at Genoa. Withheld for half a century, his ‘Memoirs, 1801-07’ were edited by Ranke and published with a biographical introduction. Consult Ranke, L. von, ‘Denwürdigkeiten des Fürsten von Hardenberg’ (5 vols., Leipzig 1877); Klose, ‘Leben Karl Augusts, Fürsten von Hardenberg’ (Halle 1807); Meier, E., ‘Die Reform der Verwaltungsorganisation unter Stein und Hardenberg’ (Leipzig 1881); Meyer, C., ‘Hardenberg und seine Verwaltung der Fürstentümer Ansbach und Bayreuth’ (Breslau 1892); Koser, ‘Die Neuordnung des preussischen archivwesens durch die Staatskanzler Fürsten v. Hardenberg’ (Leipzig 1904); Seeley, J. R., ‘Life and Times of Stein’ (London 1879).