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Prince Otto von Bismarck

Bismarck, Prince Otto von (1815–1898), German political leader who was instrumental in creating a unified German state. Born of Prussian gentry, he entered politics in 1847 and became premier of Prussia in 1862. In 1866 he defeated Austria in the Austro-Prussian War, creating the North German Federation, which excluded Austria. The Franco-Prussian War (1870–71) resulted in the defeat of France and the creation of a German empire under Prussian hegemony. Bismarck was made imperial chancellor and prince (1871). Although Wilhelm I was nominally the kaiser (emperor), Bismarck held real power and ruled as a virtual dictator. Under his regime, the German economy flourished, and German power expanded internationally. He was forced to resign in 1890 after the accession of Kaiser William II.

See also: Germany.

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