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Hohenzollern(hō'ən-tsôl`ərn), 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., the family probably took its name from the German word zöller, meaning "watchtower" or "castle," and in particular from the Swabian castle of Hohenzollern, the ancestral seat in the Black Forest. Conrad of Hohenzollern, appointed (c.1170) burgrave (imperial representative) of Nuremberg by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I, was succeeded (1192) by Frederick of Hohenzollern (d. c.1200), whose sons founded the Swabian and Franconian lines of the family. (For the Swabian line see Hohenzollern-Hechingen and Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen under HohenzollernHohenzollern,
former province of Germany. After 1945 it became part of the temporary state of Württemberg-Hohenzollern, which was included in the state of Baden-Württemberg in 1952. Its chief city was Sigmaringen, located in a mountainous region of the Swabian Jura.
..... Click the link for more information. , province.)
The Franconian line acquired the margraviates of Ansbach (1331) and Kulmbach (1340). In 1415 Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund made Frederick VI of Hohenzollern elector of Brandenburg, and in 1417 Frederick formally received the electoral dignity as Frederick I. Brandenburg then became the center of Hohenzollern power. Frederick II (reigned 1440–70) bought New Mark from the Teutonic Knights and Lower Lusatia from the Holy Roman emperor; he made Berlin the political capital.
Elector 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
..... Click the link for more information. (reigned 1470–86) issued a family law that made Brandenburg indivisible. Roman law was introduced by Joachim I (1499–1535), who tried to suppress the Protestant movement. In 1525 Albert of BrandenburgAlbert of Brandenburg,
1490–1568, grand master of the Teutonic Knights (1511–25), first duke of Prussia (1525–68); grandson of Elector Albert Achilles of Brandenburg.
..... Click the link for more information. , grand master of the Teutonic Knights, secularized the domains of his order as the duchy of Prussia. Joachim II (reigned 1535–71) converted to Lutheranism. When John Sigismund (reigned 1608–19) converted to Calvinism, his subjects remained Lutheran; thus religious toleration became a mark of the dynasty.
John Sigismund's acquisition (1614) of Cleves, Mark, and Ravensburg and his inheritance (1618) of the duchy of Prussia (East Prussia) marked the Hohenzollern rise as a leading German power. 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
..... Click the link for more information. , the Great Elector (reigned 1640–88), obtained E Pomerania, the secularized bishoprics of Cammin, Minden, and Halberstadt, and the expectancy to Magdeburg upon the death of its administrator. His reign brought centralization and absolutism to the Hohenzollern lands. In 1701 his son was crowned "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.
..... Click the link for more information. and at the Peace of Utrecht was recognized (1713) as king of Prussia. The royal title was a new symbol of the unity of the family holdings.
Frederick William IFrederick William I,
1688–1740, king of Prussia (1713–40), son and successor of Frederick I. He continued the administrative reforms and the process of centralization begun by Frederick William, the Great Elector, creating a strong, absolutist state.
..... Click the link for more information. (reigned 1713–40), through his administrative, fiscal, and military reforms, was the real architect of Hohenzollern greatness. As a result of the Northern Wars he obtained (1721) part of W Pomerania, including Stettin. Frederick IIFrederick II
or Frederick the Great,
1712–86, king of Prussia (1740–86), son and successor of Frederick William I. Early Life
Frederick's coarse and tyrannical father despised the prince, who showed a taste for French art and literature and no
..... Click the link for more information. (reigned 1740–86) seized Silesia from Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa and acquired (1772) West Prussia and Ermeland from the first partition of Poland. An enlightened despot, he achieved the reform and codification (1794) of Prussian law. Frederick William IIFrederick William II,
1744–97, king of Prussia (1786–97), nephew and successor of Frederick II (Frederick the Great). He had the power but lacked the ability of his distinguished predecessors.
..... Click the link for more information. (reigned 1786–97), Frederick William IIIFrederick William III,
1770–1840, king of Prussia (1797–1840), son and successor of Frederick William II. Well-intentioned but weak and vacillating, he endeavored to maintain neutrality in the Napoleonic Wars.
..... Click the link for more information. (reigned 1797–1840), and Frederick William IVFrederick William IV,
1795–1861, king of Prussia (1840–61), son and successor of Frederick William III. A romanticist and a mystic, he conceived vague schemes of reform based on a revival of the medieval structure, with the rule of estates and a patriarchal monarchy.
..... Click the link for more information. (reigned 1840–61) were mediocre rulers; their ministers were more important in the history of Prussia.
William IWilliam I,
1797–1888, emperor of Germany (1871–88) and king of Prussia (1861–88), second son of the future King Frederick William III of Prussia and Louise of Mecklenburg.
..... Click the link for more information. (reigned 1861–88) entrusted his affairs to Otto von Bismarck, under whose direction Prussia triumphed over its rival Austria and over France. In 1871 William was proclaimed emperor (kaiser) of a united Germany. He was succeeded by Frederick IIIFrederick III,
1831–88, emperor of Germany and king of Prussia (Mar.–June, 1888), son and successor of William I. In 1858 he married Victoria, the princess royal of England, who exerted considerable influence over him.
..... Click the link for more information. (1888) and by William IIWilliam II,
1859–1941, emperor of Germany and king of Prussia (1888–1918), son and successor of Frederick III and grandson of William I of Germany and of Queen Victoria of England.
..... Click the link for more information. (reigned 1888–1918), whose instability and ambition contributed to the involvement of Germany in World War I; his abdication ended the family's rule in Germany.
Hohenzollern,former province of Germany. After 1945 it became part of the temporary state of Württemberg-Hohenzollern, which was included in the state of Baden-WürttembergBaden-Württemberg
, state (1994 pop. 10,000,000), 13,803 sq mi (35,750 sq km), SW Germany. Stuttgart is the capital. It was formed in 1952 by the merger of Württemberg-Baden, Württemberg-Hohenzollern, and postwar Baden, all of which came into being after 1945.
..... Click the link for more information. in 1952. Its chief city was Sigmaringen, located in a mountainous region of the Swabian Jura. The impressive castle of Zollern or Hohenzollern (first mentioned 1267) in the north gave its name to the ruling house of Prussia. In 1575, Count Charles I divided the territory among his three sons, founding three lines—Hohenzollern-Hechingen, Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, and Hohenzollern-Haigerloch. In 1634 the Hohenzollern-Haigerloch line died out and the territory was absorbed by Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. Hohenzollern-Hechingen and Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, both principalities, in 1850 renounced their rights in favor of Prussia. Charles of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was chosen (1866) prince of Romania and later (1881) assumed the royal title as Carol I; his successors in Romania were Ferdinand, Carol II, and Michael. The candidature (1870) of Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen to the Spanish throne helped to precipitate the Franco-Prussian War.