July 6, 2022

For the Kingdom, see Kingdom of Prussia Prussia (German: Preußen; Latin: Borussia or Prussia) was a geographical region and historical state formations that from the 13th century spread with shifting borders from the Baltics, over Poland, to northern, western and central parts of Germany. From 1919 to 1945 Prussia was the largest German state and included 13 provinces. In 1525 Prussia became a duchy and in 1701 a kingdom. From 1871 this became the dominant state in the German Empire. After the defeat in World War I in 1918, the kingdom was replaced by the Free State of Prussia, which after World War II had to cede old territories to other German states, to Poland and the Soviet Union (today Russia and Lithuania). From 1947, the remaining, central part of Prussia entered the state of Brandenburg. The name comes from the Old Prussians, a Baltic people related to the Lithuanians, who were later assimilated into German culture.


Prussia began its existence as a small territory around Königsberg, an area that later became known as East Prussia. In the High Middle Ages, it became a target for German colonization. By the end of World War I, Prussia made up almost all of northern Germany, from the French, Belgian, and Dutch borders in the west to the Lithuanian border and to territories now belonging to eastern Poland. Prussia's distribution was greatest before 1918 and also included large parts of present - day western Poland. In the period between 1795 and 1815, Prussia also controlled what is now central Poland, including Warsaw. Until the end of the war, Prussia included, in addition to "actual Prussia" (the regions of West Prussia and East Prussia), the regions of Pomerania, Silesia, Brandenburg, Lausitz, Hanover, Schleswig-Holstein, Westphalia, Hesse, and some less connected areas in the south, such as Hohenzollern, tribal seat of Prussia's royal house. As a predominantly northern and eastern German state, Prussia had a majority of Protestants, although there was a considerable proportion of Catholics in the Rhineland, and in some eastern provinces. This may be an explanation for why Catholic southern German states such as Austria and Bavaria have long fought Prussian hegemony. Despite its predominantly German character, Prussia's annexations of territory, partly populated by Polish - speaking peoples in the 18th century, brought with them a larger Polish minority. In 1918, most of the territories with a larger degree of Polish-speaking population were ceded to the newly established Polish state.

Early history

The area on the southeastern corner of the Baltic Sea was originally populated by a Baltic-speaking people, related to the Latvians and Lithuanians. In the 13th century, Konrad of Mazovia invited the German Order of Knights to come from Transylvania and defeat the Prussian tribes at the borders of his empire. After fighting the Prussians for more than a century, the order created a semi-independent state, which eventually came to control most of present-day Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as areas now located in northern Poland. The remaining Baltic Prussians were quickly absorbed into the German population, although names of Baltic origin were not uncommon in the region and certain knowledge of the Old Prussian language continued to exist for centuries. In 1525, the Grand Master of the Order became a Protestant, proclaiming parts of the Order's territories such as the Duchy of Prussia. The territories of the order were at this time limited to the area east of the mouth of the Weichsel. In 1618, the duchy came into a personal union with the imperial electorate of Brandenburg, a state centered around Berlin and since the 15th century ruled by the Hohenzollern family. Under Frederick William I, known as "the great Elector", Prussia acquired more and more territories, including Magdeburg and areas west of the Rhine.

Kingdom of Prussia

In 1701, Brandenburg-Prussia was proclaimed the Kingdom of Prussia by Frederick I, with the permission of the German-Roman emperor.