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Brandenburg, state, Germany
Brandenburg (bränˈdənbo͝ork), state (1994 est. pop. 2,540,000), c.10,400 sq mi (26,940 sq km), E Germany. Potsdam is the capital; other leading cities include Cottbus, Frankfurt-an-der-Oder, and Brandenburg. The state of Brandenburg consists of the former Prussian province of Brandenburg minus those parts of the province lying E of the Oder and Neisse rivers in Poland (see Germany). It became (1949) one of the states of the German Democratic Republic, was abolished as an administrative unit in 1952, and was reestablished as a state in 1990 shortly before the reunification of East and West Germany. Berlin is situated in, but is administratively separate from, Brandenburg. A 1996 referendum on whether to merge the two entities into a single state was approved by residents of Berlin but rejected by voters in Brandenburg.
Drained by the Havel, Spree, and Oder rivers, the region encompassed by the state has many lakes and pine forests. The Spree Forest, in Lower Lusatia, is inhabited by Slavic-speaking Wends, remnants of the population that inhabited Brandenburg at the time of its acquisition (12th cent.) by Albert the Bear. The Slavic principalities had been previously subdued by Charlemagne but had regained their independence. In the 10th cent. the German kings organized the North March, a small area on the Elbe, which was bestowed on Albert the Bear in 1134. Albert expanded his territory, and in 1150 he inherited the principality of Brandenburg from its last Wendish prince. The March of Brandenburg, as Albert's lands were called, were colonized by Germans and became Christianized. Albert's descendants, the Ascanians, ruled Brandenburg until their extinction in 1320.
Emperor Louis IV, a Wittelsbach, gave (1323) the vacant fief to members of his own house, but Emperor Charles IV (who confirmed the margraves of Brandenburg as electors of the Holy Roman Empire) forced the Wittelsbachs to surrender it and conferred (1373) it on his son Wenceslaus. When Wenceslaus became (1378) German king, Brandenburg went to his brother, later Emperor Sigismund, who in 1417 formally transferred it to Frederick I of the house of Hohenzollern. Among Frederick's early successors were Albert Achilles (reigned 1470–86), who introduced primogeniture as the law of inheritance of the Hohenzollern family, and Joachim II (reigned 1535–71), who accepted the Reformation in 1539. In the 17th cent. the electors of Brandenburg acquired (1614) the duchy of Cleves and other W German territories and (1618) the duchy of Prussia (roughly, the later East Prussia). Although it suffered heavily in the Thirty Years War (1618–48), Brandenburg emerged as a military power under Frederick William, the Great Elector (reigned 1640–88), who acquired E Pomerania and freed Prussia from Polish suzerainty. His son, Elector Frederick III, in 1701 took the title “king in Prussia” as Frederick I. The later history of Brandenburg is that of Prussia.
Brandenburg, city, Germany
a historical region in the territory of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). In the Middle Ages, Brandenburg was one of the principalities established in the process of the conquest of the lands of the Polabian Slavs, largely Liutichi, by the German feudal lords (from the tenth century). German feudal aggression, halted as a result of the Slavic Uprising of 983, was renewed in the middle of the 12th century when Albert the Bear conquered Branibor (later Brandenburg), the center of the Gavolian tribes.
In the 13th century Brandenburg, ruled until 1320 by the German margraves of the Ascanian line who practiced a policy of Germanization, grew rapidly because of new seizures of Slavic lands. The general economic rise of the 13th century encouraged the growth of towns—for example, Cologne on the Spree and Berlin and Frankfurt on the Oder—and the economic and political elevation of Brandenburg. The Golden Bull recognized the Brandenburg margraves as electors in 1356. The Hohenzollern dynasty was established in Brandenburg in 1415, and Berlin became its residence in 1486. The indivisibility of Brandenburg lands was established by law in 1473. The Lutheran Reformation was introduced there in 1539.
The addition to Brandenburg in 1614 of Cleve, Mark, and Ravensburg, and in 1618 of Ducal Prussia (until 1657, a fief of Poland) and the significant extension of Brandenburg’s territory by the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 under Frederick William (1640–88) created the basis for the elevation of Brandenburg and the foundation of the Kingdom of Brandenburg-Prussia (1701).
The subsequent history of Brandenburg is merged with the history of Prussia. From 1815 to 1945 Brandenburg was a Prussian province, then Land, with Potsdam as its center (at first in the Soviet-occupied zone of Germany, and from 1949 in the GDR). In 1952, Brandenburg was divided into the districts of Potsdam, Frankfurt, and Cottbus.
a city in the German Democratic Republic, in the district of Potsdam; it is a port on the Havel River, a tributary of the Elbe. It is connected by way of Lake Plauen with the Havel-Elbe Canal and is an important transport center. Population, 92,300 (1969). The city is a center for metallurgy, metallurgical construction, tractor construction, riverboat building, and the chemical, timber, paper, textile, and food industries.