The Kingdom of Prussia was founded by Frederick I, Hohenzollern, in 1701, in the territory of what had been until then the March of Brandenburg, located in northeastern Europe, near the Baltic Sea. The origin of the Kingdom of Prussia was a militarized religious order, the Teutonic Knights, who were the first Germans to inhabit this region in 1226 as they launched a crusade to christianize the Slavic tribes, settling there permanently after having participated in the Third Crusade in Palestine. These knights established their religious order as the ruling government and began repopulating these territories with Germans. About three hundred years later, the order’s Grand Master, Albert of Brandenburg, sided with Martin Luther during the 16th century’s Protestant Schism and turned the region into a secular duchy. Thus, the strict code of discipline which had been part of the Teutonic Knights’ religious life was transferred to service of the State. Over time, this code would become the foundation of the Prussian officers corps.

The first Prussian king, Frederick I, had been until 1701 the Great Elector of Brandenburg; Great Electors’ job was to pick out or select the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. He was succeeded by his son, Frederick William I, who took the crown in 1713. This king devoted all his energies to creating a powerful army, making military service binding for all his subjects. He wrote a comprehensive set of infantry regulations which emphasized endless drill. He obligated his soldiers to swear an oath of loyalty to the institution of the kingship. Frederick William I was succeeded by his gifted son, Frederick II the Great, who assumed the throne in 1740; the new king was a military genius who began a series of wars and annexations which made of Prussia a major continental power, taking part in the Seven Years War.

In the second half of the 19th century and under William I, the Kingdom of Prussia unified the fragmented German states, principalities, and estates into the powerful German Empire after the Prussian Army had defeated the French forces in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871). William II modernized and beefed up the German Navy and Army during the armed race period in Europe; however he was the last Prussian king, who abdicated during the November Revolution, at the end of World War I. Thus, the Kingdom of Prussia became officially dissolved when the Weimar Republic was created in 1919.

Related posts:

The Great Leap Forward
Treaty of Fontainebleau (1814)
Boxer Rebellion