German Emperor (A Time of Peace)

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Emperor of

the German Empire

Deutscher Kaiser
Imperial coat of arms
Incumbent
Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia.jpg
Georg Friedrich

Since 26 September 1994

Details
Style His Imperial Majesty
First monarch Wilhelm I
Current monarch Georg Friedrich
Formation 1 January 1871
Abolition 28 November 1918
Residence Berlin City Palace
Appointer Hereditary
Heir Carl Friedrich

The German emperor is the official title of the head of state and hereditary ruler of the German Empire, as well as the head of the House of Hohenzollern. A specifically chosen term, it was introduced with the 1 January 1871 constitution. The Holy Roman emperor is sometimes also called "German emperor" when the historical context is clear, as derived from the Holy Roman Empire's official name of "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation" from 1512.

Germany has a parliamentary system of government in which the Chancellor is the nation's leading political figure and de facto chief executive. However, the Emperor has a role which, while not an executive post, is more than ceremonial. The Emperor has extensive discretion regarding the way they exercise their official duties. The Emperor gives direction to general political and societal debates and has some important "reserve powers" in case of political instability (such as those provided for by Article 81 of the Constitution). Under Article 59 of the Constitution, the Emperor represents the Empire in matters of international law, concludes treaties with foreign states on its behalf and accredits diplomats. Furthermore, all federal laws must be given Imperial Assent by the Emperor before they can come into effect, but usually the Emperor only vetoes a law that he believes to violate the constitution.

The Emperor, by his actions and public appearances, represents the state itself, its existence, its legitimacy, and unity. The Imperial Office involves an integrative role and the control function of upholding the law and the constitution. It is a matter of political tradition – not legal restrictions – that the Emperor generally does not comment routinely on issues in the news, particularly when there is some controversy among the political parties. This distance from day-to-day politics and daily governmental issues allows the Emperor to be a source of clarification, to influence public debate, to voice criticism, offer suggestions and make proposals.

The 6th and current Emperor is George Friedrich, who acceded to the throne on 26 September 1994 upon the death of his grandfather, Louis I.

History[edit | edit source]

The title was carefully chosen by Otto von Bismarck, Minister President of Prussia and Chancellor of the North German Confederation, after discussion which continued until the proclamation of King William I of Prussia as emperor at the Palace of Versailles during the Siege of Paris. William accepted this title grudgingly on 18 January, having preferred "Emperor of Germany". However, that would have signaled a territorial sovereignty unacceptable to the South German monarchs, as well as a claim to lands outside his realm.

"Emperor of the Germans", as had been proposed at the Frankfurt Parliament in 1849, was ruled out by William as he considered himself a king who ruled by divine right and chosen "By the Grace of God", not by the people in a popular monarchy. But more in general, William was unhappy about a crown that looked artificial, having been created by a constitution. He was afraid that it would overshadow the Prussian crown.

Since 1867, the presidency of the North German Confederation had been a hereditary office of the kings of Prussia. The new constitution of 1 January 1871, following Reichstag and Bundesrat decisions on 9/10 December, transformed the North German Confederation into the German Empire. This empire was a federal monarchy; the emperor was head of state and president of the federated monarchs (the kings of Bavaria, Württemberg, Saxony, the grand dukes of Baden, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Hesse, among others, as well as the principalities, duchies and of the free cities of Hamburg, Lübeck and Bremen).

Under the imperial constitution, the empire was a federation of states under the permanent presidency of the king of Prussia. Thus, the imperial crown was directly tied to the Prussian crown—something Wilhelm II discovered in the aftermath of World War I. He erroneously believed that he ruled the empire in personal union with Prussia. With the war's end, he conceded that he could not remain emperor, but initially thought he could at least retain his Prussian crown. However, his last chancellor, Prince Max of Baden, knew this was legally impossible, and announced William's abdication of both thrones on 9 November, two days before the Armistice. Realizing his situation was untenable, William went into exile in the Netherlands later that night. It was not until 28 November that William formally gave up all claim to "the throne of Prussia and to the German imperial throne connected therewith."

List of Emperors[edit | edit source]

Name Lifespan Reign start Reign end Notes Family Image
Wilhelm I 1797- 1888 1871 1888 Held the presidency of the Confederation (Bundespräsidium) in the North German Confederationfrom 1867 (such title being retained as a subsidiary title following the creation of the Second Reich). Hohenzollern Wilhelm I.jpg
Frederick III 1831-1888 1888 1888 Son of Wilhelm I Hohenzollern Frederick III.png
Wilhelm II 1859-1941 1888 1941 Grandson of Wilhelm I

Son of Friedrich III

Hohenzollern

Full Titles[edit | edit source]

The German Emperors had an extensive list of titles and claims that reflected the geographic expanse and diversity of the lands ruled by the House of Hohenzollern.

Wilhelm I[edit | edit source]

His Imperial and Royal Majesty Wilhelm I, By the Grace of God, German Emperor and King of Prussia; Margrave of Brandenburg, Burgrave of Nuremberg, Count of Hohenzollern; sovereign and supreme Duke of Silesia and of the County of Glatz; Grand Duke of the Lower Rhine and of Posen; Duke of Saxony, of Westphalia, of Angria, of Pomerania, Lunenburg, Holstein and Schleswig, of Magdeburg, of Bremen, of Guelders, Cleves, Jülich and Berg, Duke of the Wends and the Kassubes, of Crossen, Lauenburg and Mecklenburg; Landgrave of Hesse and Thuringia; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia; Prince of Orange; Prince of Rügen, of East Friesland, of Paderborn and Pyrmont, of Halberstadt, Münster, Minden, Osnabrück, Hildesheim, of Verden, Cammin, Fulda, Nassau and Moers; Princely Count of Henneberg; Count of Mark, of Ravensberg, of Hohenstein, Tecklenburg and Lingen, of Mansfeld, Sigmaringen and Veringen; Lord of Frankfurt.

Frederick III[edit | edit source]

His Imperial and Royal Majesty Frederick III, By the Grace of God, German Emperor and King of Prussia, Margrave of Brandenburg, Burgrave of Nuremberg, Count of Hohenzollern, Duke of Silesia and of the County of Glatz, Grand Duke of the Lower Rhine and of Posen, Duke of Saxony, of Angria, of Westphalia, of Pomerania and of Lunenburg, Duke of Schleswig, of Holstein and of Crossen, Duke of Magdeburg, of Bremen, of Guelderland and of Jülich, Cleves and Berg, Duke of the Wends and the Kashubians, of Lauenburg and of Mecklenburg, Landgrave of Hesseand in Thuringia, Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia, Prince of Orange, of Rugen, of East Friesland, of Paderborn and of Pyrmont, Prince of Halberstadt, of Münster, of Minden, of Osnabrück, of Hildesheim, of Verden, of Kammin, of Fulda, of Nassau and of Moers, Princely Count of Henneberg, Count of the Mark, of Ravensberg, of Hohenstein, of Tecklenburg and of Lingen, Count of Mansfeld, of Sigmaringen and of Veringen, Lord of Frankfurt.

Wilhelm II[edit | edit source]

His Imperial and Royal Majesty Wilhelm II, By the Grace of God, German Emperor and King of Prussia, Margrave of Brandenburg, Burgrave of Nuremberg, Count of Hohenzollern, Duke of Silesia and of the County of Glatz, Grand Duke of the Lower Rhine and of Posen, Duke of Saxony, of Angria, of Westphalia, of Pomerania and of Lunenburg, Duke of Schleswig, of Holstein and of Crossen, Duke of Magdeburg, of Bremen, of Guelderland and of Jülich, Cleves and Berg, Duke of the Wends and the Kashubians, of Lauenburg and of Mecklenburg, Landgrave of Hesseand in Thuringia, Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia, Prince of Orange, of Rugen, of East Friesland, of Paderborn and of Pyrmont, Prince of Halberstadt, of Münster, of Minden, of Osnabrück, of Hildesheim, of Verden, of Kammin, of Fulda, of Nassau and of Moers, Princely Count of Henneberg, Count of the Mark, of Ravensberg, of Hohenstein, of Tecklenburg and of Lingen, Count of Mansfeld, of Sigmaringen and of Veringen, Lord of Frankfurt.