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(brän`dənbo͝ork), 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 GermanyGermany
, Ger. Deutschland, officially Federal Republic of Germany, republic (2015 est. pop. 81,708,000), 137,699 sq mi (356,733 sq km). Located in the center of Europe, it borders the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France on the west; Switzerland and Austria on
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). 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. BerlinBerlin
, city (1994 pop. 3,475,400), capital of Germany, coextensive with Berlin state (341 sq mi/883 sq km), NE Germany, on the Spree and Havel rivers. Formerly divided into East Berlin (156 sq mi/404 sq km) and West Berlin (185 sq mi/479 sq km), the city was reunified along
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 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 LusatiaLusatia
, Ger. Lausitz, Pol. Łużyce, region of E Germany and SW Poland. It extends N from the Lusatian Mts., at the Czech border, and W from the Oder River.
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, is inhabited by Slavic-speaking WendsWends
or Sorbs,
Slavic people (numbering about 60,000) of Brandenburg and Saxony, E Germany, in Lusatia. They speak Lusatian (also known as Sorbic or Wendish), a West Slavic language with two main dialects: Upper Lusatian, nearer to Czech, and Lower Lusatian, nearer to
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, remnants of the population that inhabited Brandenburg at the time of its acquisition (12th cent.) by Albert the BearAlbert the Bear,
c.1100–1170, first margrave of Brandenburg (1150–70). He was a loyal vassal of Holy Roman Emperor Lothair II, who, as duke of Saxony, helped him take (1123) Lower Lusatia and the eastern march of Saxony. Albert lost these lands in 1131.
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. 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 IVCharles IV,
1316–78, Holy Roman emperor (1355–78), German king (1347–78), and king of Bohemia (1346–78). The son of John of Luxemburg, Charles was educated at the French court and fought the English at Crécy, where his father's heroic death made
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 (who confirmed the margraves of Brandenburg as electorselectors,
in the history of the Holy Roman Empire, the princes who had the right to elect the German kings or, more exactly, the kings of the Romans (Holy Roman emperors).
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 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 SigismundSigismund
, 1368–1437, Holy Roman emperor (1433–37), German king (1410–37), king of Hungary (1387–1437) and of Bohemia (1419–37), elector of Brandenburg (1376–1415), son of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV.
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, who in 1417 formally transferred it to Frederick IFrederick I,
1371–1440, elector of Brandenburg (1415–40), first of the Hohenzollerns (see Hohenzollern, family) to rule Brandenburg. As Frederick VI, burgrave of Nuremburg, he served under King Sigismund of Hungary (later Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund) against the
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 of the house of HohenzollernHohenzollern
, German princely family that ruled Brandenburg (1415–1918), Prussia (1525–1918), and Germany (1871–1918).

Originating in S Germany and traceable to the 11th cent.
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. Among Frederick's early successors were Albert AchillesAlbert Achilles
, 1414–86, elector of Brandenburg (1470–86); third son of Elector Frederick I. He succeeded his brother in 1470. Anxious to consolidate Hohenzollern power in Brandenburg, he issued (1473) the Dispositio
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 (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 ClevesCleves, duchy of,
former state, W Germany, on both sides of the lower Rhine, bordering on the Netherlands. Cleves was the capital. A county from late Carolingian times, it acquired (late 14th cent.) the county of Mark, in Westphalia, and in 1417 was made a duchy.
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 and other W German territories and (1618) the duchy of Prussia (roughly, the later East PrussiaEast Prussia,
Ger. Ostpreussen, former province of Prussia, extreme NE Germany. The region of East Prussia has low rolling hills that are heavily wooded, and it is dotted by many lakes (especially in Masuria) and drained by several rivers including the Nemen (Nieman).
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). Although it suffered heavily in the Thirty Years War (1618–48), Brandenburg emerged as a military power under Frederick WilliamFrederick William,
known as the Great Elector,
1620–88, elector of Brandenburg (1640–88), son and successor of George William. At his accession the scattered lands of the Hohenzollern were devastated and depopulated by the Thirty Years War and occupied by
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, 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 IFrederick I,
1657–1713, first king of Prussia (1701–13), elector of Brandenburg (1688–1713) as Frederick III. He succeeded his father, Frederick William the Great Elector, in Brandenburg.
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. The later history of Brandenburg is that of PrussiaPrussia
, Ger. Preussen, former state, the largest and most important of the German states. Berlin was the capital. The chief member of the German Empire (1871–1918) and a state of the Weimar Republic (1919–33), Prussia occupied more than half of all Germany
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city (1994 pop. 89,200), Brandenburg, E Germany, a port on the Havel River. It is an industrial center and rail junction. Manufactures include steel, machinery, and textiles. Brandenburg was founded as a Slavic settlement called Brennabor or Brennaburg. It was conquered (12th cent.) by Albert the Bear and gave its name to the margraviate (later the province) of Brandenburg. Noteworthy buildings of the city include a 12th-century Romanesque church and the city hall (13th–14th cent.).
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. a state in NE Germany, part of East Germany until 1990. A former electorate, it expanded under the Hohenzollerns to become the kingdom of Prussia (1701). The district east of the Oder River became Polish in 1945. Capital: Potsdam. Pop.: 2 575 000 (2003 est.). Area: 29 481 sq. km (11 219 sq. miles)
2. a city in NE Germany: former capital of the Prussian province of Brandenburg. Pop.: 75 485 (2003 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005